Speaking to the GSD faithful last week the former Supreme Leader predicted the GSD could be back in power as soon as 2015. One perquisite for that to happen would be collective amnesia on the part of Gibraltarian voters over the expensive fiascos committed by consecutive governments led by Caruana.
One reminder that will not go away for a very long time is the Caruana Gin Palace building that now serves as the Gibraltar International Airport terminal. No doubt the auditors would have a field day if they were ever set to work wading through the contracts and payments associated with this edifice to one man’s vanity. It also demonstrates the former Supreme Leader’s inability to determine what was the priority for the airport and Gibraltar.
The priority wasn’t the airport terminal. I am not and never have been one of those who didn’t believe that Gibraltar needed a new terminal suited to the needs of today’s travellers and the airlines that fly them. What Gibraltar didn’t need was the budget busting Gin Palace that was placed by the border in order to honour sections of the Cordoba Agreement that Spain never complied with. A much simpler option could have been chosen and indeed there are numerous examples such as the Southend on Sea airport in Essex which was upgraded for the London Olympics at a fraction of the cost of the Gin Palace. The Southend option was pointed to on a number of occasions by the current Deputy Chief Minister, Dr Joseph Garcia, when he held the Opposition Tourism portfolio.
The priority at the airport was to take traffic under the runway either through the tunnel scheme that ended up as a giant ditch or some other such project. The chaos and delays that ensue every time an aircraft lands or takes off is one of the reasons for the border crossing misery.
It remains a priority to this day. The current government has spoken of opening up more border crossings to ease the congestion at the current Third World frontier. To achieve that we need to allow people and vehicles to be able to access the border without crossing the runway. I am not an engineer but getting people from A in Gibraltar to B in La Linea is the aim: let’s just hope we don’t have to demolish the Caruana Gin Palace to do it.