Letters & Opinion

People’s Manifesto – Infrastructure

Image: The Castries-Gros Islet highway.
Image of John Peters
By John Peters

THE approach to infrastructure development in a small island developing state with high vulnerability to natural disasters has to be centred on the determination of the critical infrastructure. We intend as a priority to engage consultants to establish the infrastructure and assets vital to national security, governance, public health and safety, economy and public confidence. This inventory will then be subjected to a determination of infrastructure which will be deemed to be resistant or resilient. How we go forward in the design of any infrastructure project will be dependent on this developed inventory. We will build our future bridges based on that information and thus ensure maximization of the utilization of our scarce resources.

The second major policy platform for the infrastructure of our country, is to see infrastructure as the fertilizer for development. We have observed how a road constructed by the then WASA in 1994, for the Rodney Bay Sewer Project, became a catalyst for over $ 1.0 Billion in development in Beausejour. This area now has a major stadium, hundreds of new houses, shops, warehouses, churches, an Offshore University. This all became possible due to the construction of a new road. This is a vivid example of how infrastructure can become the fertilizer for economic activity. If you transfer that concept to our major road network we would observe that there is a disconnect.

The investment on the Gros Islet Highway from a cost benefit analysis has been phenomenal. This road has spurred our tourism sector and is a major network supporting economic activity. This road was built in the 1970’s. However when you look at the East Coast Road, it has not generated any level of economic activity. There are no major supermarkets from Cul de Sac to Vieux Fort, there are no banks from Cul de Sac to Vieux Fort, and there are no hotels from Cul de Sac to Vieux Fort. We have 36 miles of road built for over 40 yrs that has not been able to function in the same manner as the Gros Islet Highway.

On the West Coast Road which was reconstructed in 1994, we have one major supermarket, there are no banks from Cul de Sac to Soufriere, and we have had only one new hotel built along the road. There are some housing units constructed just before Anse la Raye. It is also amazing that on the West Coast Road almost 300,000 visitors travel this road every year, and many high worth visitors take this route to their hotels in Soufriere and yet the villages of Anse La Raye and Canaries are the poorest in the country.

Image: The Castries-Gros Islet highway.
The Castries-Gros Islet highway.

There are similarities on the East and West Coast roads, both have significant challenges for water supply. We therefore intend to focus on the development of the water supply on the West and East Coast of the island as we believe this infrastructure development is critical to allow the investments in these roads to bear fruit.

We believe that the focus of investment in the next five years should be on the East and West Coast Roads to bring these major road networks into economic activity. We do not support any expansion of our major road network until the full potential of these roads are realized. We intend to introduce a National Drainage Programme that will act both as an economic stimulus within the communities as well as reducing the significant losses incurred due to poor drainage. This will be a two year programme, which will be funded by diverting the present Taiwanese Grant which is used in the Constituency Development Programme and fully matching these funds from local revenue.

Parking in Castries has been studied since 1995, with various recommendations made in the Grand Castries Transportation Study. None of these recommendations have been implemented in the last 20 yrs. The city will die if this is not resolved. We intend to commission a new Transportation Study which will update the last Study and provide recommendations to deal specifically with parking in Castries and the circulation of traffic within the city. Park and Ride systems, on street parking and Multi-Storey Parking will all be considered. It is also hoped that the vexing issue of Bus Termini will be dealt with in that new Study.

Flooding is also critical in the development of the Castries city. We propose to install stand by generators to the two pump stations to allow functionality of these pumps when there is a loss of power. We intend to engage the Association of Professional Engineers of Saint Lucia to develop ‘home-grown’ recommendations on flood alleviation in Castries. Castries will return to its past glory.

2 Comments

  1. John,

    Do you accept CVs for Architecture & Urban Design to pass on to the powers that be ? (no cynicism implied). Central Castries certainly needs a major renaissance. Every time I pass under the CDC buildings on Jeremie Street I walk hastily and hope that a 9 Richter scale earthquake does not catch me there.

    Re your outlook on the Castries-Gros Islet Highway and East Coast Highway, my thoughts differ slightly. The thing is the Castries-Gros Islet highway is not functioning as it should–we are still waiting for the 4-lane highway.
    As I mentioned the the other day one can get to Vieux Fort in same time as it takes to get from Castries to Gros Islet sometimes, ie, when a accident occurs between Castries and Gros Islet.

    The East Coast Hwy is serving its dual purpose of moving passengers from HIA to northern areas and accommodating minibuses and other transport, especially heavy duty vehicles. We have not seen major commercial nodes on the east coast but it is not too late.

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