SAVE The Bays chairman Joseph Darville.
By RICARDO WELLS
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE government’s continued push of Oban Energies’ $5.5 billion refinery project amidst intense opposition is tantamount to treason, according to Save The Bays Chairman Joseph Darville, who on Friday slammed the move as “sacrilegious” and “demonic.”
“I’ve been around the block many a times, the government’s actions in this case is something I can only call dangerous and sacrilegious; sinful and demonic,” he said when asked his view on Oban Energies’ town Hall meeting held in East Grand Bahama Thursday.
The former educator said the Minnis administration’s “betrayal” of the Bahamian electorate’s trust could no longer be overlooked and denied.
“We bought it,” he said. “This administration made us think it was all in for the Bahamian people with its slogans and chants. Well, It is quite clear this is not the people’s time.”
Mr Darville said the government’s handling of the Oban saga has “sealed the deal” in his eyes.
“It is all a ploy to pull the wool over the eyes of the people. I know Grand Bahama needs jobs, but not like this.
“You can’t sacrifice everything this country was built on. We are talking about the true legacy of Grand Bahama being sacrificed for a project steeped in controversies and lies.”
Mr Darville said: “No right thinking Bahamian could look at all the facts presented to date and say, ‘Yes, this plan is the thing that is going to improve the quality of life in Grand Bahama.’”
He continued: “This environment has sustained this community. We have invited guests from all over the world to these shores. We have lived off of this very same land; and now we are going to risk all of that for a few jobs?”
“No true-hearted Bahamian would agree to that,” Mr Darville said.
Thursday’s forum was the first time residents in Grand Bahama publicly weighed in on the project.
Oban Energies President Satpal Dhunna represented the company at the event, revealing that he is a shareholder in the company.
He claimed the company has spent $10 million so far on the project, mostly to nail down the best location.
Almost a month after Oban Energies’ website was wiped of revelations of the dubious past of its management team, he said the new management structure will be revealed in the coming days.
He said once people see their “experience in the energy sector,” no fears about their capability will persist.
Towards the end of Thursday’s forum, Mr Dhunna hurried away before the press could ask him further questions, citing a technical meeting he had to attend elsewhere on the island even though it was nearly 9pm.
This action, paired with the fact that no government official attended the forum, angered Mr Darville on Friday, who also missed Thursday’s meeting due to ongoing legal proceedings in New Providence.
Mr Darville said: “No one showed up from the government. The very men and women elected to ensure the rights of Bahamians are protected. They refused to show up. How ridiculous is that?
“Where is the respect?
“Where is the compassion and love for the community?
“First you force the project on them, they recognised and called out the issues. You then sell them on the idea that all was still well despite the issues; they again shouted foul.
“How is it that you push and push, but refuse to show up and address these persons?”
Mr Darville continued: “For the last 40-years, there have been no approvals given to do any kind of refinery. The company trying to come in, they don’t know a thing about oil refinement. Heck, they’ve said that much. This is a tragedy.”
He added: “This is a nightmare proposals directly from the pits of hell. This is lunacy. The people of Grand Bahama are going to fight this to the tooth.”