Soufriere Needs Real Development

SOUFRIERE will today play host to a delegation led by Prime Minister Allen Chastanet in the new government’s attempt to better acquaint itself with the critical issues afflicting that constituency.

Soufriere has had a litany of problems plaguing its development, with inadequate infrastructure and high unemployment being among them. Today’s tour seeks to address those concerns on a short- to medium term basis.

The Prime Minister’s affinity with Soufriere is no secret. In fact, he did contest that seat unsuccessfully in the 2011 general elections, during which time he made many pledges to Soufrierians. Having been given an enviable mandate on June 6, Soufrierians will no doubt expect him to keep his word.

The Soufriere Hospital, Soufriere Comprehensive Secondary School, Hummingbird Beach Resort and the once-prosperous copra factory are among the stops the delegation will make. It’s a broad spectrum, really, that includes the health, education, tourism and manufacturing sectors.

Regardless of how today’s tour turns out, there is no denying that the west coast constituency has had more than its tolerable share of neglect from successive administrations. Promises of making the town the “Mecca of tourism” have now become cliché, with many residents being forced to become employed in the handful of hotels there or join the long urban drift line.

The home of the iconic Pitons has over the years become known for its hotels winning major awards than for any growth in agriculture and manufacture being recorded. Controversy surrounding the erecting of luxury bungalows close to the Piton Management Area (PMA) comes and goes, too.

Like Vieux Fort – which became the focus of attention right after the general elections – Soufriere has been cited several times over as possessing the right mix for development. However, other pressing matters always seem to pop up in government’s portfolio afterwards with Soufriere becoming a hot ticket again during an election campaign.

With the government delegation visiting the town today, it is incumbent on Soufrierians to not only feel honoured that the man who not only pleaded with them nearly five years ago to represent them finds it fitting to visit them, but also to nsure that he delivers on such promises.

Parliamentary representative, Herod Stanislas, too, needs to work closely with his constituents towards realizing the short- and long-term goals of the constituency. Otherwise, these periodic visits to constituencies might just end up being ‘thank you’ excursions.

Soufriere needs real investment and both the private and public sectors need to step in to create the right kind of development that makes Soufrierians feel like part of the island’s progressive plan. It makes no sense living in an area that attracts a huge mass of tourists but being forced to live as second-class citizens.

Soufriere, sooner rather than later, truly needs to become the island’s Mecca of tourism and not simply a politically-expedient pawn for power. It all starts with empowering Soufrierians by showing them tangible means of progress and not simply lip service.

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