That Millennium Highway Project 🚧🚗

HOW long will Saint Lucians have to wait for the completion of rehabilitation works on the Millennium Highway has now boiled down to anyone’s guess.

Commissioned in February, 2000, the Millennium Highway, with its two tunnels, has certainly been a boon for businesses in terms of transporting goods from Castries to points south of the capital city, what with its easier gradients, gentler curves and a wider road surface. The road is much easier to drive, is safer, quicker, and less stressful for goods and passenger vehicles.

The Millennium Highway has, without question, enhanced the economic development of Saint Lucia and Castries in particular.

Costing approximately seventy-five million dollars, this road, which links the City of Castries to the Cul-De-Sac Valley and points further south, also connects to the East and West coast roads and forms a logical extension to Saint Lucia’s major arterial network.

Further, the Millennium Highway is still seen as a critical piece of the island’s road network which allows for the expansion of the boundaries of Castries southwards.

There is no doubt that the Millennium Highway is a critical part of the infrastructure of Saint Lucia for the reasons given above and a host of other reasons, hence our astonishment at the slow pace at which its rehabilitation works are being undertaken.

We were told that Phase 2 of the highway’s upgrade was supposed to have started in 2016. Along the way there was a significant hiatus of the works. In the second half of this year the project resumed under the guidance of contractor C.O. Williams.

We have no choice but to lay the blame for the poor management of the highway at the feet of the country’s political directorate. Even under the previous administration this highway had been in poor condition and the delays in the works, seeing how important this road is to the economic development of Saint Lucia, should never have been accepted by the government of the day acting on behalf of our citizenry.

The situation has become so grave that both Opposition Leader Allen Chastanet and Prime Minister Philip Pierre have questioned the reasons for the delays associated with the highway’s rehabilitation. In fact, Pierre recently expressed disgust and anger regarding the delays, which is somewhat surprising given that this is an infrastructural project which his government has oversight of and although he or his administration may have had no control over the circumstances causing the delays, he should have been alerted early enough to apply some pressure, where needed, to see that works get back on track as quickly as possible.

To be fair to Pierre and his team, with funding for the highway’s upgrade coming from outside Saint Lucia, government would have to be careful how it uses its muscles to get the project moving along as it should have been a long time ago. However, we still believe that Saint Lucians have been shortchanged regarding the phased upgrading of the highway. The ball was dropped somewhere and the explanations, of late, given by the government are not enough to erase a simple fact: that the political directorate has again failed the people.

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