By DANA SMITH
Tribune Staff Reporter
DENOUNCING the FNM’s stance on last week’s Mayaguana plane crash, PLP chairman Bradley Roberts said “hell will freeze over” before anyone stops his party from holding the former government accountable for their “failed” policies.
Mr Roberts was responding to FNM chairman Darron Cash’s accusations that the current PLP administration decided to “duck and cover and blame someone else” in the aftermath of the crash which claimed three lives.
The aircraft was forced to make a midnight landing on an unlit, damaged runway to pick up Rev Robert Black who was in need of emergency medical care last Tuesday. Upon landing, it clipped one car before colliding with another.
That second car, in which the mother, sister and brother-in-law of former MP Sidney Collie sat, burst into flames, killing all three.
The vehicles had come out to help with the emergency airlift – using their headlights to illuminate the runway, which is not equipped with lights.
Mr Cash criticised Prime Minister Perry Christie, Transport and Aviation Minister Glenys Hanna-Martin and Mayaguana MP V Alfred Gray for their statements in the wake of the crash, accusing the government of “running for cover.”
Mr Roberts said in response: “From his bluster and political posturing in the media today, it is patently clear that Darron Cash and the FNM have learned nothing from the Mayaguana aviation tragedy.
“He and the FNM fail to recognise that their destructive policy of stopping and cancelling projects and programmes that were clearly in the public and national interests was a causal factor in the Mayaguana tragedy.
“He now wants Bahamians to forget that it was his FNM governing party that stopped and cancelled the Family Island Airport Emergency Runway Lighting Programme – a project that was almost 90 per cent complete.”
Mr Cash “seeks to deflect from the fact that governance is continuous,” Mr Roberts said, and the record “clearly shows” that during the FNM’s last term in office, “delaying, stopping and cancelling legally binding agreements and projects for purely political reasons was the order of the day.”
The party chairman said: “The PLP government, who facilitated the installation of emergency lights on some 17 Family Island airports, must now finish the project they started during its last term in office by effecting the immediate installation of emergency lights in Mayaguana, Fresh Creek, Andros and Stella Maris, Long Island.
“This is redundant – this project should have continued to its conclusion after May 2 2007 because that was in the public and national interests.”
The FNM has a right to disagree with the Heads of Agreement with the I-Group for the development of Mayaguana, Mr Roberts said, but it did not have the right to cancel the Family Island Emergency Runway Lighting programme.
“This policy was clearly in both the public and national interests and to date the FNM has failed to offer an intelligent explanation for their destructive and failed policy to cancel this programme – a decision that turned out to be a causal factor in that tragic Aviation accident in Mayaguana,” he said.
“Hell will freeze over before Darron Cash or anybody else for that matter silences the PLP from holding the FNM accountable for their failed policies.”
The Ingraham administration signed a revised Heads of Agreement for the $1.8 billion Mayaguana-based I-Group project last February. The I–Group was responsible for the Mayaguana airport’s upgrade.
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.