Today Thermal Energy, tomorrow Rolling Stock!

This is my third publication on the exploration of thermal energy. In the case of the actual exploration which the government has finally implemented – the four-lane highway from Massade Gros Islet to Vieux Fort – the government has ignored the input of an indigenous St. Lucian, denying him or his company participation in either endeavour.

The news of the exploration of our thermal energy potential by Dr. James Fletcher is one of the fundamental parameters which could liberate us from our economic dependence on others. Dr. Fletcher, a university educated agriculturist, is charged with thermal energy exploration of the network of volcanic fissures terminating in the fumaroles at the Soufriere Sulphur Springs. Our sources of supply are magmas, or hot, viscous, siliceous, melts containing gasses which accumulate in chambers under the volcanoes in Montserrat, Guadeloupe, Dominica, Martinique and St. Vincent, traveling under tremendous pressure in lines of weakness in overlying rocks or fissures.

The emission of steam and gasses at high temperature could be channeled and stored in gas silos for transmission to Trinidad and Tobago and to Jamaica.

As far as I understood from the last meeting I had with Dr. Fletcher a year ago, he was to travel to Aruba on a mission involving thermal energy. The Compton administration in the 70s embarked on a similar mission which was abandoned, perhaps because our economy was flourishing, but now that the banana “green gold” has turned red, attempts have been made by Dr. Fletcher to settle any commitment with the original developers of the failed development.

The Kenny administration has laid too long in fallow. It now needs a thermo booster for economic momentum. We must attract and energize the qualified personnel on hand, a matrix of potential think tanks into a Central Planning Committee.

Such assemblies in which I participated in Barbados equipped the Errol Barrow administration with the fundamental drive for future economic and overall development. With a similar modus operandi plus oil exploration, Dr. Eric Williams developed Trinidad and Tobago.

As a former Director of Public Works in Barbados and a member of the Central Planning Committee, I can say that if a pavilion had to be erected at a fair to be held by Barbados in Canada, approval first had to be sought from the Central Planning Committee, even before it came before Cabinet.

One-man decisions regarding public contractors, as is presently the political norm in St. Lucia, are not only counterproductive but will continue to undermine public confidence in government.

Additionally, it is being bruited about that the focus of the local oligarchy, like that of Sir Eric Gairy, Idi Amin Dada, and President for life Mugabe, is to sideline all initiative of Cabinet Ministers considered inappropriate. Every Cabinet Member was elected by voters; each has equal standing with the Prime Minister who is only the primus inter pares, the first among equals.

In Grenada, as the government’s Chief Engineer, I was always invited to Eric Gairy’s Cabinet meetings. Only Winston White, an elected member and I, ever questioned Gairy’s initiatives. The other Cabinet members remained mute when Gairy had the floor. But such a policy, reinforced by the infamous Mongoose Gang, eventually led to Maurice Bishop’s disastrous revolution. A similar policy – when massa day is truly done – will not serve any CARICOM state.

Prime Minister Sir John Compton broke the shackles of colonialism by removing St. Lucia from “Grant in Aid” and balanced its recurrent budget. He then tapped both Colonial Development and Welfare and USAID for capital expenditure. But unlike present day politicians, Compton had the fundamental drive and foresight, fundamental tools for nation building.

In the human resource sector, he taught farmers to love agriculture. He inspired them with government aid, duty-free concessions and FAR pick-up trucks. In turn they educated their children who now serve our communities as doctors, lawyers, engineers, economists, etc. But our present cadre of academicians has made not a dent on the solid core of functional illiteracy in St. Lucia where the previous prime minister and former Leader of the Opposition was ostensibly axed for, among other things, a lack of academic qualifications.

But the exponential indices of functional illiteracy in comparison with academics is irrelevant when the critical mass is in economic limbo, thanks to our present economic circumstances which could be reactivated by the exploration of thermal energy; rolling stock as well.

The latter has a potential to generate over $265,000,000 annually from standing violations alone, let alone moving violations. Bourgeoisies who can afford to pay for parking, park their BMWs, Mercedes Benzes, Range Rovers, Toyotas and other SUVs for $600 for 156 working days per year which is $3.85 per day, with police parking wardens guarding them for $1,500.00 per month, or $65.22 per working day (assuming 23 working days per month).

With 26 cars parked on each side of the square, the annual income is $600 x 104 = $62,400. If those 104 spaces were to be charged at $1 per hour for an eight hour day, 23 working days a month, then the annual revenue would be $229,632, a difference of $167,232.

Of the 13 x 10,000 vehicles with L number plates, allocating 60 percent (78,000) to Castries at $8 parking per day for 6 days a week, 52 weeks a year, would produce an annual income of over $190,000,000; assuming another $75,000,000+ on the same basis for Soufriere and Vieux Fort would produce a total annual revenue in excess of $265,000,000.

So why do we continue to be beggars if not for our anachronistic Massa?

Today science and technology are exploring alternative habitat on Mars, in the event man is forced to evacuate Planet Earth.

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