By Stephen Kangal
January 22, 2019
The Sandals debacle is a reflection of our growing maturity as a Nation propelled by a strong interactive Westminster democratic ideal and a Civic Society that is vigilant and untrusting. Poor Project Management Skills as well as a very incompetent and arrogant political leadership and unilateralism contributed to the mismanagement of the Project in getting a discerning public to buy into it.
That is the crux driving the abandonment of the Sandals Resort that was to be constructed in Buccoo on very fragile and pollution-sensitive wetlands.
A national mindset that scuttled the Rapid Rail, the Property Tax and the Alutrint Project was not prepared to trust the Government in handling the negotiations especially since a feasibility study was not done to substantiate the huge claims of a looming bonanza in the tourism industry.
The sudden withdrawal of the Sandals Group from any further involvement in the Tobago Sandals Resort on the basis of what it called negative publicity reflects a number of the following conclusions that can be inferred from this expected debacle:
- Sandals is too thin skinned and expected a docile, non-vigilant democracy and inactive civic society apparatus in T&T. This withdrawal confirms the nature and nurture of our participatory democracy that asks the right questions outside of Parliament and investigates things that confuse them. The withdrawal is a triumph for the vigilance of civic society that has produced the Dumas, Raymonds, Devant Maharajhs and other investigative journalists such as Mark Bassant and Camini Maharaj.
- The way that this project was conceptualized and reluctantly relayed and sold to the public under a large blanket of non-disclosures and mystery added speculative fuel to the fire that eventually conflagrated the tents used to hide and suffocate public interest. There was a dribble of information on a project that seemed to have had its birth when Rowley was Leader of the Opposition. That is its sad legacy of vaps.
- It was poorly handled, created doubts and suspicions as if there was more in the mortar than the pestle. Arrogance and no damn dog bark without any feasibility study being conducted were a prescription for the collapse of a project that kept changing its financing options. No real evaluation was done and it was unilaterally imposed on T&T by sheer arrogance and incompetence.
- Raymond had to go to Court to command the GORTT to release information that was vital to conduct an assessment of the Project in the interest of the people of T&T. Secrecy, non-transparency, lack of full disclosures and suspicions upped the tempo and the finals rites that were performed Tuesday on a project that was doomed to fail because of very poor political management and a desire to fool the public into submission.
- The statement made by Young and Restless about nay-sayers scuttling the project is pathetic and so of course that he must resign for being economical with the truth and his oath to defend the national interest. This Joker is wild and wassy warbling aimlessly. I am surprised that he did not describe the nay sayers as unpatriotic for speaking for the people’s interest. He admitted that only a few discredited it but strong enough to change the mind of Butch Stewart, the Sandals magnate. People’s power prevailed.
- Potential investors must take notice that there are no free rides in T&T and you must respect our right to know and to ask questions about secretive projects. T&T is no banana republic in which no damn dog bark any longer.
- Congratulations to all who called for disclosures and open governance and said good bye to sandals because we are a shoe and socks people some of the time and do not lay on the beaches sipping nutmeg liquers and insensitive to the dangers lurking against our national good.
- Vigilance is the price of democracy.