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Monday, January 30, 2023

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VIPA Deal Will Prove to Be Detrimental

Dear Source:
In his letter to the editor about the WICO and VIPA dispute, Mr. Vince Danet has a "take" on the dispute with which I must disagree. First, WICO can hardly be regarded as a "monopolistic entity (who is) crying foul and looking to the government to resolve its clear lack of foresight and free market thinking." As the Source's article on the dispute correctly pointed out, WICO does not depend on local funding to sustain its yearly budget and in fact currently contributes $1 million annually to the General Fund. Conversely, VIPA DOES depend on local funding to sustain its yearly budget.
WICO was established in 1912 and has been an outstanding corporate entity throughout the years. WICO is probably the best employer in the territory and this is certainly demonstrated by the longevity of service to the company by its many faithful employees, many of whom came on board as very young men and women and stayed on until their retirement. WICO employees are very faithful to the company and for good reason.
In my opinion, the construction of the new Crown Bay facility was a short-sighted calamity fraught with problems from its conception and will end up as a major White Elephant. There is no indication that the number of cruise ships visiting St Thomas will increase in the future. In fact it's been predicted by many that once Cuba opens up, the opposite could well happen.
VIPA made a deal with two major cruise ship lines which news wasn't made public until after the deal had been done. There have been numerous complaints since then from passengers who feel isolated at Crown Bay. To get to any popular beach entails a tortuous taxi ride through downtown or "up over the hill" which eats into the short shore time available for relaxation.
There are but a few stores open at Crown Bay – and why didn't the government in all its wisdom work on water taxis years ago instead of letting some of the more vociferous road taxi drivers indulge their tunnel vision by continually naysaying such a project? If the taxi associations had gathered $1 a day from their members over 20 years ago to invest in such a water taxi operation, there would be a lot of quite wealthy taxi drivers around today. The merchants at Havensight have seen their revenues drastically reduced which is a major concern when the possibility exists that their employees may have to be reduced in number.
When the East Asiatic Company of Denmark sold WICO to the VI Government in the early 90s there was great local rejoicing. Finally the bastion of "colonialism" had been captured by the islanders! At least good sense prevailed in maintaining and continuing WICO's excellent status quo and not trying to reinvent the wheel, but, alas, now we have TWO competing cruise ship facilities both owned by the government allegedly for the benefit of the people but which I believe can only prove detrimental to all.
Anna Clarke
St. Thomas

Editor's note: We welcome and encourage readers to keep the dialogue going by responding to Source commentary. Letters should be e-mailed with name and place of residence to source@viaccess.net.

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