THE Editor: A few months ago I noted with much enthusiasm the ground-breaking ceremony for the new Sandals Hotel which is earmarked for construction opposite the Sandals Grande at Pigeon Island.
The new project, as reported, was going to create over 1,000 jobs during construction, and another 600 or so permanent jobs on completion. Welcome news to a country, and a constituency where unemployment levels are high.
Several hundred men and women finding work before Christmas would have meant a great deal, particularly to their families, not to mention the local suppliers who would sell goods, the vendors and taxi drivers, all who would have some solid economic activity to drive them.
Lo and behold I open the paper and see that Beaches Barbados is moving full steam ahead, with plans already underway for a groundbreaking, and with Prime Minister Mia Mottley assuring that she would personally ensure things got done!
In the meantime, machinery lies idle, and work has stopped on the Sandals St. Lucia site. So I asked why?
As far as I have learnt a neighbouring property – who I shall not name – has chosen to tie-up the project with all sorts of legal claims. A few weeks ago the local media reported that there was some concern over trespassing the area in question, a six-inch strip of land according to the Minister Dominic Fedee during a radio interview.
What sort of madness is this? I later learnt that Sandals has, on their own sought to address the concern, but that the neighbour has refused to cooperate, bringing the project to a halt, and now jeopardizing a major investment for the people of St Lucia. Over a strip of land that you can’t even build a doghouse on? Come on!
If there was ever an act of narrow selfishness and total lack of care for this country and its people this must be it. Everyone associated with delaying, and who knows, possibly leading to this project being shut down must answer to the people.
Let us be under no illusion, there are those who contribute, and those who don’t. A bunch of rich folks buying up property and then leasing it back does nothing to build St Lucia. In fact the property in question – the principals of whom see it fit to try and undermine the investment being made by Sandals – is empty half the year, and contributes little to the economy or to employment.
However they feel because they have money, and own some land, they can play massa with all of us because jobs for our youth do not matter to them, business for our merchants do not matter to them and opportunities for our young people do not matter to them.
I am fed up of waiting on these power players and politicians to make their point – in the meantime our children are unemployed and our merchants are suffering from lack of business. Let the project go on! We as a people must demand an end to this nonsense. These people are impeding the progress of our tourism sector and they must be held to account. (Ernest Amadoe)