by Makeda Mikael
The Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority has been struggling for many years since the Director General Rosalind and his colleague lost their lives in the horrific earthquake in Haiti in 2010.
The next in line who assumed the DG position was almost at retirement and was forced to stay on long past his best years, and then finally, the current DG was sourced out of Trinidad via Doha where he wound up his last assignment.
After what seems like a long time settling the new DG into the job, it is clear that the standards of operating in a country like UAE are unlike those of small islands and their politics. Our rank politics which has torn our airport apart both in operations and in the physical land ownership (our airport is now owned by three entities, namely Government of Antigua, Antigua Hangars Inc.(Private) and CalvinAir Helicopters (Private).
This action making VCBIA one of the most tortuous airports to manage from ICAO operation standards which expect an airport to be on its own lands, or if not with properly institutionalized Agreements between the ‘owners.’
With a conundrum of their own making, the Government of Antigua/Airport and ECCAA have created a precedent ownership of land within an international airport, and need to register a Difference with ICAO. In order to do this there is a requirement for an agreement to be in place between private owners and the Government of Antigua & Barbuda, which has not yet been established.
The offices of ECCAA and the Ministry of Aviation need to cooperate in their work in assisting the increase of aviation assets of the island, using the proximity of an agency of dedicated aviation experts available to all of their queries. The old airport has been siting idle and will soon fall apart if not soon utilized.
Additionally the buildings within the and around the airport need to be utilized, as staying empty encourage rodents and mongoose take over, invading the controlled space. ECCAA now needs enlarged headquarters closer to the Ministry and the Airport both physically and intellectually.
The help of regional agencies should be supplied gratuitously to the small islands which they serve, but instead of ECCAA which is headquartered in Antigua has sat by for twenty years, without offering to research and act upon recommendations to bring the entire airport into a regulatory controlled space.
Although crooks have stamped their mark on the airport, little has been done by the authorities to avoid similar risks in the future.
The need for the OECS to grow their own regional agency chiefs could make for the ease of transferring technology and expertise between the agencies and the states without tension. Our history and its failure to hold together in a federation remain the platform from which we perform, “One from 10 is naught!”
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