By CHESTER ROBARDS
Tribune Senior Reporter
THE Government will upgrade Mayaguana’s airport if the I-Group does not, says the island’s MP V. Alfred Gray.
He said it would not be business as usual at the airport, after a plane attempting a midnight landing on a runway lit only by vehicle headlights collided with one of the vehicles, killing three people.
The three died early Thursday when fuel from the wing of the plane ignited and exploded as it hit the truck they were sitting in.
Mr Gray visited the island along with Minister of Transport and Aviation Glenys Hanna-Martin later on Thursday.
The renewed focus on the undeveloped, unlit, airport, which has existed since the Second World War, moved Mr Gray to tell several residents: “The Government is not going to allow it to be business as usual. Even if it means the Government will take over the completion of it.”
Mayaguana resident Audrey Charlton said the island had been waiting for upgraded airport facilities for “far too long.”
“If this is what it takes, so be it,” Ms Charlton said. “It’s sad it had to get to this point.”
Ms Hanna-Martin has already promised residents that emergency lighting is being ordered by the Government in order to stop having to illuminate the runway during night landings using vehicles. She said the lights could take some time to arrive on the island.
The Ingraham administration signed a revised Heads of Agreement for the $1.8 billion Mayaguana-based I-Group project last February. The original deal signed under the former Christie administration in 2006 was a 50/50 joint venture between the Government, by way of the Hotel Corporation, and the I-Group, with both parties owning the development project under the umbrella of the Mayaguana Development Company.
The first phase of the I-Group’s Mayaguana development called for the construction of an airstrip to accommodate Dash 8 traffic, and an airport terminal.
The airport terminal construction had been started by the I-Group, according to residents, however, the runway’s lack of lighting and its pits, cracks and weeds show its antiquity.