By Demion McTair. Updated 2:03 p.m., Wednesday, 22 April 2020, Atlantic Standard Time (GMT-4)
Kingstown, St. Vincent (ONE NEWS SVG) – The privately-run Vincentian vessel, MV Gem Star II facilitated the transportation of goods between Union Island and Carriacou today.
One News SVG made contact with Ann Deroche, owner of the MV Gem Star II on Wednesday afternoon via telephone, who confirmed that the vessel is in Carriacou to deliver goods on behalf of merchants.
She said it was a smooth process.
“The merchants in Carriacou cleared it with their side of the government, I don’t know who they cleared it with… but they cleared it and, we cleared it on this side with Maritime Administration”.
She said no arrangements were made for trade to be returned to St. Vincent from Carriacou.
“We made arrangement for trade to go. I know that somebody had called about something coming up from Carriacou, not much, but I told them to speak to the captain and the port authorities in Carriacou and let them guide them” – she said.
When asked if it is a regular thing for Gem Star to go to Carriacou to deliver goods, Ms. Deroche said: “The previous Gem Star went to Carriacou approximately once per month to deliver the same kind of goods that we take. Since we have come back, we have not been doing it regularly because the price had gone up. This boat is bigger and Grenada made some changes and it made it very expensive for the merchants.
So, hitherto, we would take whatever goods down to Union Island and they would send their small boats for it. But, they needed a large quantity this time, so, we decided to take it into them” – Deroche told One News.
The development comes amidst recent indirect exchanges between Grenada’s Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Mitchell and SVG’s Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves regarding the movement of people and goods in the southern Grenadines – islands shared between mainland St. Vincent and mainland Grenada.
THE RHETORICAL FALLOUT BETWEEN LEADERS OF BOTH COUNTRIES
On April 6, in a press conference, Grenada’s Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Mitchell said that he was concerned about what is taking place in the Grenadines, referring to St. Vincent’s open borders amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said “A lot of people get food stuff from St. Vincent and therefore, one has to be careful. The borders between St. Vincent, The Grenadines and Petite Martinique is almost open. The Commissioner and his people would have to be doing a lot more work”.
On April 10, St. Vincent’s Prime Minister, Dr. Gonsalves said “I want to say to the people of Carriacou and Petite Martinique that if you are having difficulties getting food, we can help because we have a lot of it in Union Island and we can get to Union Island. I want to tell our brothers and sisters that”.
“If you want to get cooking gas, we can help you, but let us do it in a structured and organized manner” – Dr. Gonsalves added.
Then on April 11, Dr. Mitchell, in a scathing response described as “alarming” and “grossly irresponsible” the offer made by Prime Minister Dr. Gonsalves.
“There is no shortage of food and we are continuously revising our operations to ensure that we optimise the distribution of goods and restocking of grocery stores” – he added.
Dr. Gonsalves responded in a letter denouncing Dr. Mitchell’s public remarks as “falsehoods” and further explained his initial statements.
There is strong integration in the Grenadines and people from Carriacou and Petite Martinique are accustomed to getting supplies from Union, Island, St. Vincent and, people from Union Island are also accustomed to getting supplies from Carriacou. .