Subsequent to the passing of Hurricane Maria, many St. Lucians witnessed the upgrading of the Choc Bridge, which we were all aware was scheduled to be demolished.
The estimated costs of reconstruction under the SLP administration was EC$25 million but after consideration by the UWP administration, the Choc Bridge appeared to have some further life. Hence, the upgrading strategy which has presently been completed, came at the cost of EC$75,000.
It is decisions like these which can gradually improve government’s bottom-line. We also take the opportunity of paying kudos to the Ministry of Infrastructure in addressing the Mongiraud hill northbound lane which was compromised by the dropping of ready-mix concrete which created an ongoing hazard for motorists.
St. Jude Hospital
There has been much speculation/discussion over the future of St. Jude Hospital. However, to clear the air on the matter, government has to come to grips with a major decision in respect to the best way forward.
Demolishing the structure is not an option as there are better ways to make use of the building in their present form. On the other hand, the cost of reconfiguration remains an option but government must carefully analyse how its revenue can be disbursed as two wrongs don’t make a right.
The fact is that financial assistance from donor nations will decline as a result of more pressing and meaningful destinations like St. Maarten, British Virgin Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands, Dominica and Puerto Rico — not excluding Mexico — which are virtually under siege.
Another cause for concern is the perception that by the outside world that the Caribbean is now ill-prepared for business this winter season. Hence, Prime Minister Chastanet’s effort to convince our tourism suppliers that St. Lucia’s door remains open for business.
On another note, the Prime Minister has indicated that with St. Maarten, BVI, St. Croix, Anguilla and Puerto Rico so badly battered, a number of St. Lucians working in those areas will be unable to continue forwarding their remittances to St. Lucia, thereby creating a shortfall in income for St. Lucia.
These are the hard facts and we must improve on our prudence and prioritize our investments with our limited income. We must also take note of the warnings by Sir Richard Branson that the Caribbean needs to revisit the way forward in light of climate change.