DURING the run-up to the last general elections, political candidates were quizzed almost ad infinitum as to their plans for their respective constituencies should their party assume office. At a meeting held in Ciceron where he addressed the youth, SLP candidate, Dr. Ernest Hilaire, when quizzed by this paper about plans for the development of his consistency said that, inter alia, an extended promenade featuring tourism-related investment such as bars and shops should replace the current Banannes Bay area.
At the time, the plan sounded both bold and forward-thinking, much to the delight of many constituents who, despite lamenting the fact that his predecessor, Dr. Robert Lewis, who had served that constituency for two full terms, seemed unable to wrest Banannes Bay from its descent in malaise. However, despite Dr.Hilaire winning the Castries South seat, the Saint Lucia Labour Party was voted out of office, with his opponent, Mary Isaac, now serving as Minister for Health.
Just days ago, Prime Minister Allen Chastanet announced that government is mulling an ambitious plan to upgrade the Banannes Bay area in an effort to enhance its appearance as a point of entry to the city. A beautification phase is earmarked to be the first tangible step in that regard.
According to the Prime Minister, the Banannes Bay strip will comprise green spaces, park benches and restaurants and no longer be an eyesore to Saint Lucians and tourists whose first close-up glimpses are a less-than-desired visual welcome.
For many years now, Banannes Bay, and the wider aux-a-Chaud/Hospital Road area has been a decaying bastion of political neglect. Successive administrations have nothing but offered lip service while people continue to live seemingly comfortable above a graveyard. Moreover, the next generation of children is forced to live in squalor because no administration has seen it fit to relocate these families forced to live in sub-human conditions.
While the recent pronouncements by the Prime Minister regarding Banannes Bay sound familiar, one thing should set them apart from what was said about the area previously – that this administration truly does something to ameliorate the status quo of not only Banannes Bay, but also the Faux-a-Chaud/Hospital Road area.
It must never take the expediency of politics to raise the standard of a people. Instead, it must take a conscience that seeks to do good for the greater good of people. As such, the gravity of the situation that exists in these areas is so extreme that some level of bipartisanship will be needed to arrive at a favourable solution for those who still feel neglected after years of showing support for political candidates.
Minister Isaac should also use whatever political will she can wield to ensure that the Prime Minister lives up to his promise. If not, she faces the same dilemma Dr.Hilaire faced in March 2016 – trying to convince voters that what government failed to do in the past will be done in the future should his party win. It’s about time that the people from these areas truly have a change for the better.