NO one driving through Castries can be elated by what they see and experience. We have a city that is in chaos. There are buildings in Castries that in any functional city centre would have been demolished.
So let us go on a tour of the central business district of Castries. I will use the Castries River as the southern boundary, Chaussee Road as the eastern boundary, Castries Harbour as the western boundary and the Government Buildings as the northern boundary.
We start with the harbour. The Vendors Arcade was a temporary structure built in the early 1990s to house vendors as part of the redevelopment of Castries Market. Twenty-five years later, the ‘temporary’ structure is in near collapse (we have redefined ‘temporary’). Then as you move along, we have a ‘lapo’ hoarding which fences off the area where the old fire station was located, then you have an abandoned Customs head office building and two ‘scruffy’ sheds belonging to SLASPA. This is the most expensive real estate in Saint Lucia, which belongs to the State and left as an eyesore.
We continue our journey along Manoel Street. We will see an abandoned building opposite SLASPA’s head office. As you travel farther, you would observe structures along Queen’s Lane with a collapsed roof which amazingly is still allowed to be in use. You then come onto Hospital Road and your amazement will be enhanced as you will see a structure built within the Castries River with toilet facilities depositing raw sewage into the river.
As you come over the bridge, your eyes will be healed as you will see a well-maintained Carasco & Son building and 1st National Bank at the end. As you travel farther along Brazil Street, you will observe a few structures that should be demolished. The Chaussee Road has its optical challenges but you will survive.
Then when you come Into Jeremie Street, then you will experience shock and awe. You will observe public housing structures with such glaring signs of structural failure you might get lock-jaw. This is the Castries that we are marketing to the world to come and see.
This is the visual chaos but on your journey you would have also observed a traffic management chaos. I sought to ascertain the responsible agency for parking within the city. Section 127 of the Motor Vehicle and Road Traffic Act 2003 defines the Castries Corporation as the responsible authority for on-street parking within the city limits. Any chaos with respect to parking within the city is the lawful responsibility of the Castries Corporation.
So let us look at this chaos theory that is vividly displayed in Castries. Brazil Street is a major arterial road linking the east of Castries to the city and beyond. What plausible reason can there be to place these ‘yellow line favours’, which we call reserved parking along this route? How many times have we experienced major delays because of parked vehicles along Brazil Street?
You look at Micoud Street in which an entire lane is lost to reserved parking. Bridge Street has also lost major areas to ‘yellow line favours’. It cannot be right that I have to park in either a paid parking lot in Castries or walk from the multi-storey carpark into Castries and a businessman who constructed a building with no parking space in an effort to maximize his investment, is allowed to be granted favours to park in front of his business.
These reserved parking areas and off-loading zones/parking lots must be regularized. How can you have people parking in an off-loading zone for eight hours? Why should business-houses be given on-street parking for their senior staff? Why are these discriminatory practices pursued by the Castries Constituency Council?
Micoud Street, Chaussee Road, Brazil Street, Manoel Street, Bridge Street and Jeremie Street should be totally clear of reserved parking of any sort. These main arterial routes must operate at full capacity. Business-houses on those streets will have to sort out off-loading between 6:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.
So, Mr. Mayor, as I applaud what you have done in the short time in that office, work with the DCA to clean up these derelict buildings within the city and sort out this sordid mess with the on- street parking. The laws of Saint Lucia have empowered you to act and let us together as a nation desire to have a great city.