‘Twinning Project’ to Strengthen Cultural and Economic Ties between Castries and Point Fortin

Point Fortin Mayor Clude James presents a token to Castries Mayor Geraldine Lendor-Gabriel …
Point Fortin Mayor Clude James presents a token to Castries Mayor Geraldine Lendor-Gabriel …

The Castries Constituency Council (CCC) recently embarked on a ‘twinning arrangement’ project with the Republic Borough of Point Fortin, in Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) in an effort to develop mutual cooperation between the two countries on wide ranging issues of interest.

Point Fortin – the smallest Borough in T&T is located in southwestern Trinidad, about 32km (20m) southwest of San Fernando, in the historic county of Saint Patrick. After the discovery of oil in 1906 the town grew into a major oil-producing centre.

The town grew with the oil industry between the 1940s and 1980s culminating in its elevation to the borough status in 1980.

During a formal ceremony in Saint Lucia, on December, 13 to mark the country’s National Day celebrations – Mayor Clude Anthony James from the Borough of Point Fortin signed a twinning arrangement with the city of Castries.

Following on prior precedents where the city of Castries undertook twining projects with cities in Guadeloupe and Martinique, and further afield to Taipei – Mayor of Castries Geraldine Lendor-Gabriel met with the Mayor of Point Fortin to unfurl this latest development.

“We twin the cities, so we become almost like brothers and sisters. We exchange cultural activities …and not too long ago we twinned with the Borough in Guadeloupe,” Minister of Housing and Local Government Richard Frederick told the gathering at the event.

As a result of the Guadeloupe experience, he said, the French neighbours donated an ambulance to Saint Lucia.

Noting the scope of providing services to the community, Frederick added, “With expansion comes greater responsibility and with greater responsibility you need deeper financial pockets. So, maintenance and operations of the house are something that we have to be cognizant of.”

And as the authorities look to widen its healthcare services within the city and its environs, the Castries Central MP disclosed that the government has “decommissioned” the old Castries Health Centre in a move to construct a new facility.

He said, the government plans to build a “brand new spanking hospital” on the Victoria Hospital compound to replace the old facility on Chausse Road.

“The twinning of the cities comes with it the benefits (such as), the exchange of cultural ideas, exchange of resources …and the twinning has brought about a lot of stuff,” the minster noted. He said an open relationship has developed between these ‘friendly cities’ that will redound to greater mutual cooperation between the cities on various issues.

Frederick recalled that a more recent activity involved an exchange visit, whereby students from Martinique and Guadeloupe visited Saint Lucia “to get indoctrinated” in the English language. The exercise was greatly appreciated by the French officials, who proposed that the program become an “ongoing activity”.

Mayor James noted that discussions on this latest development, and the subsequent signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) began taking shape before his reign, sometime in 2016.

He is pleased that the stakeholders have worked assiduously “to bring conclusion to all this hard work”, while acknowledging the input of the respective ministers, council members and staffers from the two cities.

“You and I are going to be sharing a lot of ideas, cultural ideas, intellectual ideas …and we are willing to exchange these ideas for the betterment for both of our countries,” James declared.

The Point Fortin Mayor stated that in the same way that he garnered much knowledge and information for this visit, likewise “we have a lot to give Castries and we have a lot to learn from Castries …and we are looking forward to this.”

James extended an invitation to the CCC representatives to visit Point Fortin, as “there is a beacon of culture in Trinidad and Tobago. He described one of the festivals held in Point Fortin “as the best in Trinidad”, which consists of a month-long activity of celebrations.

He said the ‘pan on the move’, jour ouvert and other street activities in the Point Fortin festival is one to savour, and can be utilised by the Saint Lucian delegates to enhance “your tourism export”.

Mayor Lendor-Gabriel said the two parties held “fruitful discussions” pertaining to widening opportunities for collaboration. She noted that the economic development acquired by Point Fortin through its oil industry, “has allowed us to look at that particular borough and learn from some of the experiences that can come out of understanding the people.

The Castries Mayor said, one of the major factors arising from the discussions is an interest in music. “As a council we place emphasis on music and music development among the young persons,” she explained. “And Point Fortin also has a very rich history of music …and, as well, it is considered to the ‘Cultural Capital’ of Trinidad and Tobago. And so, we see great opportunity for us to learn from them.”

Lendor-Gabriel said the local council were also updated on other issues dealing with administrative operations, security personnel and services “and we see this as a great platform to promote the concept of Caribbean unity, and Caribbean togetherness, as something that we’ve always spoken about.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Send this to a friend