Wide-ranging support for dismissal of Cap Ternay proposal – Seychelles reacts to State of the Nation Address
View of the Bay at Cap Ternay where the Emirates' Cap Ternay Resort was to be built. (Gerard Larose, Seychelles Tourism Board)
(Seychelles News Agency) - News that the Cap Ternay Resort project on the western coast of the Seychelles main island of Mahé, intended for the Dubai-based Emirates group, will not go ahead has been greeted by an outpouring of relief in the Seychelles.
The announcement was made yesterday afternoon by the archipelago’s President James Michel in his State of the Nation Address which was aired live on the national television, the Seychelles Broadcasting Corporation (SBC).
Seychellois businessman Marc Houareau is among those who have welcomed the decision, saying he was “pleased to see that the President has finally listened to the voice of reason and more importantly, the voice of the majority of Seychellois who were against this project.”
Houareau, who posted a Facebook comment on SNA’s coverage of the announcement, was the one who started a petition against the development taking place at Cap Ternay, which gathered some 3,000 signatures.
“I hope that Emirates will still invest in Seychelles albeit at a different site that is suitable for a hotel development that does not impact on the environment,” he said.
The Civil Engagement Platform Seychelles has also added its voice to the reaction by saying “CEPS welcomes this decision and thanks the President for listening to the voice of civil society.”
CEPS was leading a Facebook-led campaign called 'Save Bay Ternay', posting information and updates relating to the project.
Since the inception of the proposal in 2007, the project that was to be built within the sensitive mangrove wetlands of the Morne Seychellois National Park and bordering the pristine Baie Ternay Marine Park was widely contested by local citizens, conservationists and politicians alike.
Reacting to the news, the leader of one of the main opposition parties, the Seychelles National Party (SNP) Wavel Ramkalawan said the pressure that the SNP had placed on the government had successfully prevented President Michel from taking “bad decisions”.
“When I stood up at Port Glaud to tell the investors that this project should not go ahead and that the people of Seychelles were against it, I was accused of affecting the livelihood of the residents of Port Glaud. Today he declares that he has stopped the project! Wonder what the residents of Port Glaud have to say to this turnaround,” Ramkalawan posted on Facebook.
SNA also spoke to a number of people in the streets of the capital city of Victoria to get their reaction to the President’s State of the Nation Address.
While some said they did not listen to it for various reasons, others said they were too busy to comment. But most of those who agreed to talk to SNA were happy about the news regarding the cancellation of the Cap Ternay hotel development.
“I think it's a good idea that they have cancelled the project because it would ruin the environment, the sea. Our fishermen wouldn't be able to go fishing, we wouldn't be able to go to the beach there or nature walks,” said Rachel.
“It depends on the government; at the end of the day they are the ones that make the decision. We cannot say that there are not enough hotels in Seychelles though. I went to NYS [National Youth Service] there… if we were to develop the place it would definitely be an issue, we might not have access to the beach there anymore,” said Jude.
Paternity leave welcomed
One other announcement in the State of the Nation Address which has caught the attention of a number of people is the five days of paternity leave which is soon to be implemented by the government.
“I think it's a good idea they gave the five days paternity leave for men, so they can stay home and help me look after the baby. I think it's a very good idea,” said Rachel.
“It's a good idea. We get the chance to spend time with our wives and help with the new-born,” said Collin.
A widening income gap
As from Monday, it will be the turn of the members of the National Assembly to give their reactions to President Michel’s State of the Nation Address.
In his initial reaction, the leader of the opposition in the National Assembly David Pierre told SNA that the president had spoken mainly about his contract with the people of Seychelles, but he said that in his opinion, this contract needed to be redefined.
“I think there are many things the government needs to take into consideration which he is not doing,” said Pierre.
“The gap between rich and poor will continue to widen. The prices of basic commodities are going up… I think that there is no evidence that clearly shows the political will of the president to address this problem as a whole, I think it will continue to worsen as it has been the case over the last ten years. The gap between rich and poor is growing and will continue to grow."
‘The President has listened’
For the leader of government business in the National Assembly, Marie-Antoinette Rose, the State of the Nation Address focussed on what Seychelles has achieved as a nation, as well as the weaknesses that can be resolved as a nation.
“It also focussed on the concerns of the people of Seychelles and the future of the Country,” Rose told SNA.
She added that the President has been attentive to the Seychellois people particularly with regard to the Cap Ternay development project.
“This decision is in line with the personality of the head of state to always listen to his people. In 2008…. he took a brave and important decision to change the economic direction of the country by implementing the reforms, he put aside politics,” she said. “He was attentive to the people making this decision…. so I am not surprised that he has taken this decision because when there is a decision to be taken he does so in the interest of the people of Seychelles.”
Pierre will give his full reaction to the address in the National Assembly on Monday and will be followed by Rose and the other members of parliament.
The reactions will be aired live on national radio.