St. John’s Antigua- News that the Barbuda Council is considering to resume sand-mining operations has not sat well with Head of the Antigua Labour Party Branch on Barbuda, Senator Arthur Nibbs.
Council chairman Kelvin Punter, this week, said the cessation of sand-mining in April this year was being termed “temporary.” They are now considering resuming the operation to settle debts associated with mining.
The debt is estimated to be around $135,000, though it stood at $45,000 two months ago.
Speaking on Observer Radio’s Snake Pit Thursday evening, Nibbs said that sand is a non-renewable source, which will take decades to resurface.
He said the council has been mining for over 36 years with no alternative and the resumption of this practice has serious environmental implications for the sister island.
“We should say thanks to God for allowing us to be mining for over 36 years and a lot of people not showing any remorse,” Nibbs said. “They going into what you call the main ridge, the only ridge left and it has always been an understanding and a rule and a law that the main ridge should not be touched.”
He said the ridge is needed to break some of the water pressure coming from the sea to avoid any major flooding on Barbuda.
“I think Barbudans themselves should wake up and say even if I am benefitting from it, I would first have to look at the long-term implications and the health of the population,” Nibbs said. “I don’t see the foolishness for Punter to say we have to go back into it again.”
Sand-mining, which began in 1976, generated around $5 million in revenue annually for the council.
It was done initially in Palmetto Point in the south-western tip of the 62-square mile island, and reportedly shifted in 2006 to around 103 acres in the south-eastern coast.
Punter, who made the announcement of the council’s consideration, said the option was not a favorable one.
“If we can find the revenue source to take care of these outstanding bills without going back into sand-mining, that would be good. But if that’s the only way, I guess we have to bite the bullet and do it,” Punter said in an earlier interview with OBSERVER Media.
Nibbs suggested that the chairman should sit down with the council members and re-examine alternative revenue sources to create jobs.
He also chastised the Barbuda People’s Movement (BPM), for always seeking handouts rather than helping themselves.
“BPM is stuck in a mode. They prefer to accept handouts or run to Antigua to see if anything is left back from the table of the masters to even meet payroll,” Nibbs said.
The ALP Leader’s comments were also supported by MP for Barbuda Trevor Walker.
According to Walker sand-mining is not the answer to resolving Barbuda’s problems. Walker said even if Barbuda is cash-strapped, going back to mining sand is not the answer.
“We have to start to engage people. It’s just 1,200 of us, and let us see if we can do something for ourselves,” Walker said. “We used to survive before without sand-mining