A deep low pressure centre that spawned tornadoes and thunderstorms across the US earlier this week is set to generate massive sea swells in the Caribbean over the next two or three days.
The Barbados and Saint Lucia Meteorological Offices yesterday issued weather forecasts indicating that “significant sea wave height” were expected over the Eastern Caribbean, starting today and continuing into tomorrow.
The Barbados Meteorological Office indicated that swells around four to five metres, or 12 to 16 feet, were expected over the coastal waters surrounding Barbados from late Wednesday/early Thursday.
Islands further north are projecting EVEN LARGER waves!
So concerned are officials that in Barbados and St. Lucia the National Disaster Management agencies (Department of Emergency Management in Barbados and National Emergency Management Organisation in St. Lucia) have quietly started to put contingency plans in place in the event that they need to take action.
In Puerto Rico ships are being temporarily relocated, and people are being cautioned….
We will keep abreast of this story as it develops…..
On of the more troubling stories to cross the Margin’s radar recently is this story out of Grenada where from what is being said it would seem that police were caught spying on an opposition party planning meeting.
Grenada’s opposition party has accused the Keith Mitchell administration of spying on a private meeting of its executive and wants Scotland Yard to investigate the allegation.
The National Democratic Congress (NDC) claimed that a police officer was caught secretly recording a closed-door meeting and pointed fingers at the Prime Minister’s New National Party (NNP) as the ones behind the move.
But the NNP has denied the spying allegation.
Of all of the islands of the english speaking Caribbean, Grenada has had one of the most erratic relationships with democracy. Having gone through years of mis rule under Gairy, the Revolution and invasion (or intervention) by the United States military. In spite of all of the foregoing, Grenada has developed today into a flourishing and stable democracy.
For the coming election on the Spice Isle the stakes are higher than ever, for the first time in a while it looks as if there may be a real chance of the Government changing. On the night of the Barbados election we made the statement that the true test of democracy is when the result of the election is accepted by supporters of all parties the winners and the losers. If anything is allowed to cast doubt on the integrity of the electoral process in Grenada the consequences may be significant.
On an island with Grenada’s bloody history, democracy is too fragile to take anything for granted.
Faced with rising crime rates, Caribbean governments have struggled to keep pace. However at a time of challenging economic conditions and soaring levels of indebtedness, many Caribbean police forces are overwhelmed, underpaid, and under-equipped. This is particularly the case in the smaller economies of the OECS (you will note that I did not say “smaller islands”) The Caribbean with it’s inadquately equipped security forces, and many islands with inlets and coves make the chain attractive as a route for drug traffickers to move narcotics to the metropolitan markets.
The wealthier economies in the region have attempted to strengthen their security apparatus however, they are often faced with criminals who have more sophisticated equipment than they do. The problem is compounded by the lack of financial assistance for security ( a mindset that is slowly changing).
It is against this background that Trinidad Prime Minister Patrick Manning recently proposed the development of a Pan Caribbean law enforcement agency.
Patrick Manning said a well-trained, equipped regional force with the power to legally operate in any CARICOM country would be part of the answer to combating the crime situation – one which he insists is being driven by the illegal drug trade.
“Many of us in the Caribbean today are challenged by the unacceptable levels of criminal activity in our country, most of which are now spurred by the global traffic in illegal drugs. The trade in illegal arms and gang warfare lead to an unacceptable level of homicide in our main urban centres,” he said, while delivering the keynote address at the recent University of the West Indies (UWI) Mona Campus Commemoration Dinner in Jamaica….
…..Mr Manning said his country had sought to stem the flow of illegal drugs and arms into the country through initiatives which he believes will eventually rid the country of the drug trade, such as round the clock surveillance of the twin island republic’s largely unprotected coastline. But he also noted that the pattern in the past demonstrated that when the operations of drug lords are interrupted in one country they move to another.
“(That) pattern emphasises the need for multilateral efforts among ourselves and with the wider world. Failure to effectively deal with the issue of crime could stymie the economic and social development of the Caribbean,” he said.
Mr Manning further urged CARICOM heads to spearhead the process of greater cooperation in the sharing of intelligence among police forces to head off migratory drug smugglers.
In theory this sounds like a great idea, and we on the margin support it generally. However would such a “federal” force be allowed to operate? To often in the Caribbean there are rumours (and we aren’t prepared to say they are only rumours) of “certain people” in certain countries being untouchable, would a CFBI be allowed to go after them?If they were it would open an interesting can of worms.
Would the criminals arrested by this federal force be prosecuted in local or regional courts? For example we have many cases of witnesses in Trinidad being murdered before they can testify, we also have rumours of corrupt judiciaries in some countries, would people arrested by the “Federales” have a likely chance of getting convicted in a local court?
When you look at the implications of a Caribbean Law Enforcement agency, it’s not as simple as it might appear at first blush. For it to be really effective it would have to be part of a Pan Caribbean judicial system.
We all bolted for the door this afternoon as we felt and saw the ground shake beneath our feet. Outside other persons were rushing from buildings and car alarms were going off. By the time we realised what was going on it was beginning to subside. Everyone is asking what’s going on and no one appears to know. Calls on cell phones are met with “Network Busy”, calls on landlines are met with busy tones. No one is hurt but everyone is calling their loved ones to see that they are okay. People are sounding strained on the phone not because they are scared for themselves but because they fear for those dear to them. “My husband is on a construction site”, “My parents are on a plane coming in, will the airport be okay?” “I can’t get through to my children’s school I wonder if they are okay?” a jumbled montage of thoughts and of concern.
It now appears that there has been a major earthquake just north of Martinique magnitude 7.3 (some sites are reporting 7.4) it was strong enough to knock a house down in St. George, reports from friends in St. Lucia, Grenada and Trinidad have all reported feeling it and have all reported that they are fine. (thank goodness)
No word yet from Martinique or Dominica. As we get word we’ll post.
It’s a time to hug your family and count your blessings, it could have been much much worse.
We found another LIAT horror story online on Mathaba.net, it would seem that their director of news was bound to Barbados from St. Vincent to connect to an Air Jamaica flight. Little did he know what LIAT had in store for him….
After the LIAT aircraft had closed its doors and was taxying to the runway for taking off from St Vincent and the Grenadines airport this morning, the air hostess announced to the surprise of many on board that flight 752 to Barbados was now renamed flight 761 to Grenada.
Affected passengers with connecting flights onward were reassured that the plane would still arrive in Barbados in good time and if need be, connecting flights would wait. In the case of flights to Jamaica and with onward connections to Cuba, those passengers need not worry as there would be “plenty of time” to check-in at the Air Jamaica counter.
However, at the superb Cuban-built airport in Grenada which had been used as an excuse by the United States to invade and overthrow the government of that island nation in 1983, a further delay occured due to a shortage of seats on the aircraft which was now covering for a second flight route.
Needless to say by the time the flight got to Barbados, the beleaguered editor missed his connection. This consolidation of flights is not unusual to anyone who travels LIAT regularly. However there were some interesting observations about transiting through Barbados’ new 200 million dollar HUB airport.
Not only are passengers subjected to a lengthy bureaucratic form-filling operation that gives them a visa to remain in Barbados even if wishing to do nothing more than transfer flights, but the immigration officer will pose unwaranted questions!
Passengers in transit through Barbados to independent island nations such as St Vincent or Dominica which long ago threw off British colonialism, but which may not have airports large enough to receive direct international flights, are then subjected to questioning by the immigration officials: “Why are you going to St Vincent (or insert other destination here)?”
Most European and North American travellers are told they must answer these questions if they wish to pass through and may then be told “why don’t you stay in Barbados? We have this that and the other on offer”, however, those more aware usually answer something like “mind your own business, you are not the government of St Vincent.”
The fact of this unjustified questioning is well known among both the community and government and business leaders in St Vincent, and there are already rumblings of doing something about it.
Now we’ve heard the Minister of Tourism Noel Lynch talk about how the main function of LIAT is to protect Barbados’ investment in being a hub (which makes sense) however unless the Government can facilitate the smooth passage of transiting passengers this 200 million dollar investment (plus whatever we have sunk into LIAT) will be wasted.
And if you think that there is nothing that can be done about it, one of the reasons given by Allan Chastenet (St. Lucia’s Minister of Tourism) for pursuing American Eagle was that transiting passengers were being charged Barbados departure tax. When they are booked through on AA they don’t have to pay. The lesson to be taken from that is that unless Barbados can sort out the legal and institutional frameworks for being a functioning hub, being the prettiest airport in the world will get you nowhere.
Saw this interesting article on STV this week on National Geographic with regard to the construction of the “Hawaii Super Ferry”, it turns out that the new ferry is the first high speed ferry service to operate in the Hawaiian Islands.
Hawaii Superferry plans to use Austal fast ferry technology to establish Hawaii’s first high-speed vehicle-passenger service. Each catamaran can carry 866 passengers and up to 282 cars (or a combination of 28 twelve metre trucks and 65 cars) and provide services connecting Honolulu to Maui and Kauai in three hours and from Honolulu to the Big Island in approximately four hours. The second ferry will begin service in early 2009. With the entry into service of the second ferry, two round trips per day between Maui and Oahu and one round trip per day between Kauai and Oahu and the Island of Hawaii and Oahu will be offered.
With a draft of 3.6 metres (11’8”) and a beam of 24 metres (78’), the ferry will commute between the Hawaiian Islands at speeds up to 40 knots. The vessel is four decks high, including two decks for the car and truck loading, one deck for passengers and the bridge deck reserved for the pilot and his crew. The 2nd deck or mezzanine deck is 2/3 hoistable in order to facilitate parking for lighter cars and leave maximum parking space for the larger trucks.
The Upper Deck or passenger deck includes many premiere amenities for 866 passengers of all ages besides comfortable seating. This deck includes a bar and lounge on each end, food counter, gift shop, video game room, children’s play area, restrooms, crew mess, purser’s office, and first aid room.
At 40 knots the ferry would be able to make the 100 mile Barbados to St. Vincent Run in just under two and a half hours. When you consider the total time of travel with LIAT (not counting delays) the ferry begins to look attractive. Also the shipping of cargo between the islands would also be revolutionised. Currently several of the islands fly produce to Barbados for onward shipment to the UK in the belly cargo of the transatlantic wide bodies. A major constraint on those industries is the carrying capacity of a Dash 8, which is currently the only effective way of moving between the islands. A high speed ferry could open new opportunities for these segments of the OECS economies.
The only question we are left to ask is how much longer will we have to wait for this service?