(SNO) – Lenius Lendor, the former general manager of the Saint Lucia Air and Sea Ports Authority (SLASPA), is one of three Saint Lucians who have been hired to fill top positions in the British Virgin Islands in recent times.
The other Saint Lucians who have taken up posts with the BVI government are former Director of Corrections at Bordelais Correctional Facility Verne Garde, who was appointed Superintendent of Her Majesty’s Prison effective July 2, 2018 for two years, and Shawn Innocent who was appointed a full-time magistrate effective Sept. 3, 2018 for six months. Innocent served as a magistrate in the BVI previously.
According to Virgin Islands News Online (VINO), Lendor was appointed managing director of the BVI Ports Authority (BVIPA) and started working officially on Monday, September 3, 2018 on a two-year contract.
The BVI Cabinet approved the recommendation of the BVIPA’s Board of Directors to hire Lendor. The BVIPA, according to the entity’s website, was established by the British Virgin Islands Ports Authority Act, No. 12 of 1990, as a separate corporate entity, and is solely owned by the Government of the [British] Virgin Islands.
VINO reported that Lendor, with a base salary of USD$120,000 (ECD$324,000) per year plus “generous” allowances, is earning more than the last Managing Director, Claude O. Skelton-Cline, a BVIslander.
To his credit, Lendor is a former general manager of the St. Lucia Marine Terminals Limited, and served the Port Management Association of the Caribbean as chairman (2011 to 2015) and vice chairman (2003 to 2011).
But Lendor’s appointment in the BVI, as well as those of Innocent and Garde, have not gone down well with Skelton-Cline and other locals, according to VINO.
The publication said many residents have criticised the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) government for their “perceived history of disenfranchising” locals who are qualified for jobs and “instead place expatriates in those positions”.
Another publication, BVI Platinum, has reported that Skelton-Cline, who sought legal recourse in 2016 after Cabinet decided not to renew his contract as BVIPA managind director, “blasted the announcement that a St. Lucian national is the new Managing Director at BVIPA”.
According to Platinum, during his radio talk show “Honestly Speaking” on September 11, Skelton-Cline, who is currently awaiting judgment in the court case, complained that there is a pattern of non-nationals being given top positions in the Territory.
Skelton-Cline said two local persons applied for the job, but were not selected, Platinum reported.
“How so many of our posts that were once held by BVIslanders are no longer held by BVIslanders. The latest being the gentleman from St. Lucia who is now Managing Director of the BVI Ports Authority. After we’ve had two locals in the persons of John Samuels and Kevin OJ Smith, who applied for this post, and it also raises the question of some of the people who were sitting on some of these Boards. What is it about us that we continue to not trust in each other, the character, the competencies of each other.”
Skelton-Cline noted that even if the decision was made by the Board to hire the Saint Lucian, it was ratified in Cabinet.
“Here again the BVI Ports Authority Managing Director is not in our hands; so of all us that exist in this Territory, none of us qualify to give leadership at the BVI Ports Authority. At the prison, another St. Lucian gentleman has been imported to head the prison. How is it again under this particular government that we’re allowing, that we continue to see the disillusion, the degradation, the marginalization of BVIslanders in key posts. In all of the posts that pay any reasonable compensation,” Skelton-Cline complained.
According to the news report, the talk show host, who is reportedly vying to contest the upcoming general elections for the main opposition Virgin Islands Party, called on the people of the BVI to speak out on what he described as marginalisation.
“I am appealing to the people, I am saying to us, I am saying to you — are you satisfied with being marginalized? Are you satisfied with becoming a second class citizen in your own country? Are you satisfied with the behavior of this government or any other government who would seek to put you in the back of the bus, when you are responsible for putting them in the seat. How do we continue on this path?” he said.
When Saint Lucian Shawn Innocent was hired recently, his appointment was noted by VINO.
“Many residents have maintained there were local Attorneys who could have sit-in for the six months and accused the National Democratic Party (NDP) Government of discrimination against locals,” VINO reported.