The Saint Lucia Labour Party is continuing to express concern over the Allen Chastanet Administration’s stoppage of projects intended to improve the life of Saint Lucians.
Following on decisions by the UWP to stop the Soufriere Square enhancement project, the southern Administrative Complex in Vieux Fort and the St. Jude’s Reconstruction Project, the Government has now halted work on three (3) water projects in Dennery, Vieux Fort and the John Compton Dam.
The SLP points to the Dennery North Water Redevelopment Project which is geared to stop the acute water shortages which have been experienced for years by the people in the Dennery region.
The funding for this project includes a grant of US$5million secured from the Government of Mexico by the former SLP government and a loan of US$11.2 million approved by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB). The project is being managed by the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS). UNOPS has completed evaluation of bids and identified a preferred bidder. The next stage is for the contract to be awarded and for work to begin.
The SLP release states that similarly funding for the Vieux Fort water project has been secured through joint financing of US$19.7 million by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB).
The project was formally launched in November 2015, and the project office has been established with a Head of Unit, who is being paid by CDB, has been employed. At the time of stoppage, project staff for the unit was being recruited. The services of that unit will also be utilized for the coordination of the third project.
The Labour Party has identified the John Compton Dam Rehabilitation Project as the third water project halted by the UWP Government. The de-silting of the John Compton Dam has been a critical need for several years and during its last term in office the Labour government worked in earnest to create the means by which this project can be undertaken.
Joint funding of US$14.7 million was secured from the CDB, EIB and the IADB. A repayment mechanism was set up placing 10.43% of monies collected from water bills in a special account at the Bank of Saint Lucia.
Between 2013 and now, this account has already accumulated an amount of EC$16million with the account is managed by the National Utilities Regulatory Commission (NURC). The project was formally launched in November 2015. The longer this project is delayed, the greater the risk to people and businesses in the northern region of the country.
According to the SLP, the information in its release can be verified from numerous progress reports on all three (3) projects contained in press releases from WASCO, press conferences by WASCO management, statements by former Minister James Fletcher, information provided on talk shows attended by WASCO personnel and introductory statements at the formal launch of the projects.
The Saint Lucia Labour Party calls on Prime Minister Allen Chastanet to explain why those water projects have been stalled, knowing the critical circumstances that dictated the need to initiate them. With likes of St. Jude Hospital, will there be another million-dollar review commissioned before the critical needs of the people are addressed?