A number of basic services will become available to residents of the south of Saint Lucia within the next two years, thanks to a project being undertaken by the Government of Saint Lucia in partnership with the National Insurance Corporation (NIC). Sod was turned this week for an EC$64 million, 75,000 square foot Administrative Complex in Beanefield, Vieux Fort. The sod-turning ceremony was held at the project site on Wednesday, April 20, 2016.
The sod-turning ceremony was addressed by Hon. Dr. Kenny D. Anthony, Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Economic Affairs, Planning and Social Security, and Member of Parliament for Vieux Fort South. In attendance were Hon. Stanley Felix, Minister for Physical Development, Housing and Urban Renewal; Mr. Matthew Mathurin, Director of NIC; members of the Board and Investment Committee of NIC; Rayneau Gajadhar, Team Leader of Construction and Industrial Equipment Limited; and Winall Joshua, Mayor of the town of Vieux Fort.
Conceding that ‘decentralisation’ has often been spoken of, the Prime Minister pointed out that the concept had to be made “meaningful to people’s lives.” One of the ways to make this manifest, he explained, was to ensure that strategic investments – such as the project now being undertaken by the NIC – encompass all of Saint Lucia. This, he explained, was the thinking behind his pursuit of this undertaking, which he first proposed in 2012.
Said Dr. Anthony, “I have repeatedly made the point that there must be equity in our country, equity in investment, equity in the treatment of our people wherever they might be. And it is a message that I have drummed into the National Insurance Corporation, emphasised time and time again, that all investments should not be located in the north, in the Castries Basin; that all workers of this country, wherever they may be located, contribute to the resources of the National Insurance Corporation and they too
must be part of the investment initiatives of the Corporation. In that spirit, I hope that whilst this investment takes place here in Vieux Fort that, in time, NIC will turn its attention to other towns, for example Soufriere and even to the rapidly developing town of Gros Islet for other strategic investments of this type.”
Dr. Anthony went on to explain that delivering on his promise to build this facility for the people of the south will reap benefits for residents not only in Vieux Fort but surrounding communities as well. Referring to his “deep elation” that this project is now becoming a reality, he pointed out that the island’s southernmost town is a hub, and that the establishment of the Administrative Complex will fill a gaping void for tens of thousands of citizens in the south of the island.
Dr. Anthony continued, “The fact is the town of Vieux Fort is like the mini metropolis for the surrounding constituencies. People of Micoud South, Micoud North, Vieux Fort North, Laborie, way back to Choiseul, come here to do their business on a regular basis, and they turn to Vieux Fort for the facilities and services that Government offers.
“We also have to make some giant strides in the administration of this country. We are managing a country that is too centralised. Our citizens have to travel to Castries to secure basic services. It cannot be right that someone requires a civil status record and they must pay a bus to travel to Castries, pay a bus to come back down, pay a bus to see whether the record has been prepared, reach up there, it’s not prepared, pay a bus, come back down, and it’s a never ending story. Other countries, huge countries, large countries, have been able to decentralise basic services. For some strange reason, here in Saint Lucia, despite our size, we have not been able to accomplish this.”
The Vieux Fort Administrative Complex is set for completion in 2018.