I have consistently said that the easiest part of politics is campaigning for office. A fresh new voice opposed to a government that has run its course is like fine wine in good company. The hard part is executing, in office. Transforming a peoples’ thinking, creating a more caring society, ensuring the boundaries between lawlessness and the rule of law are clearly defined and observed, are crucial elements of progress.
Last weekend space did not permit a full analysis of the trials and successes of the new Allen Chastanet government. Certain signs of progress which I intended to mention were captured by Oswald Augustine, writing in another newspaper. The signs of economic progress bear repetition.
Prime Minister Chastanet has repeatedly said that his priority for job creation lies in developing the tourism industry. Few were surprised by this as tourism is his pet subject. Working with Sir John Compton in the company of Dwight Venner and others, he was assigned to tourism. Later he was elevated to minister of tourism, under Sir John. It is therefore no surprise that several hotel and tourism projects, which were mentioned by the former SLP regime, have rapidly advanced towards implementation since Allen Chastanet became prime minister. Hotel projects at Choiseul, Vieux Fort and Pigeon Point spring to mind. The former two must be sweet music to the ears of the long-suffering youth from that part of the island.
In furtherance of his efforts at job creation one ought also to mention the proposed Hummingbird development at Soufriere, the OJO labs at Vieux Fort and another hotel proposal for Cannelles, in the south/east of the island.
As far as this writer is concerned, the mother of all the planned projects is the development and modernization of Hewanorra International Airport. That airport has long outlived its usefulness; now begs for upgrading and modernization. Saint Lucians who recently passed through Antigua are full of praise for that island’s new airport facilities. Mr. Augustine wrote last week that if the former government of Saint Lucia had not foolishly stopped the airport tax, over three-hundred million dollars would by now have been collected to help develop and modernize Hewanorra Airport.
This takes me to the father of all planned investments on the island since Allen Chastanet arrived at the reins. I refer to the expansion of the Vieux Fort sea port, the proposed horse racing track and pavilion, and the DSH project. Coincidentally, the Trinidad newspapers reported that the developer of the horse racing track and DSH at Vieux Fort recently visited horse-racing officials in Trinidad for talks. Any idea what the topic might have been?
Perhaps the best news of all for the recovery of the island’s economy and the creation of employment was the new banana deal struck with French businessmen to market Saint Lucia’s bananas in France and Europe. We pray that this new initiative is organized to empower local farmers with full charge of their farming business, thereby denying middle men access between the farmer and the market.
To be fair and balanced, one must admit that keeping roadsides and drains clean remains a challenge. Yes, we accept that cutting grass is not a sustainable job. The town and village councils must therefore step up and employ more permanent workers to help clear and maintain urban and rural roadsides and drains.
We never forget that cleanliness is next to Godliness. It’s now seven months since a large white plastic bag filled with cut grass was left on the Marina View Road (the Bonne Terre road), beneath Peter Foster’s residence. If it was meant to punish the former Speaker for playing a role he should not, it missed the mark. The man does not use that road; so please come with a backhoe and clear the drains and overhanging trees and return the road to its original width.
Further along the Bonne Terre Road grass and fallen leaves have piled up at the end of a concrete drain opposite Winston Taylor’s home and water settles on the flat portion of that road which was recently pot-holed. That same backhoe needs to clear that spot and allow water to flow freely again.
Interestingly, no one seems to be in charge when grass is cut and thrown into drains indiscriminately. What sense does that make even to the persons doing it? Weed-whackers are used willy-nilly, without rake or shovel to clear drains of cut grass and fallen leaves.
We cannot end before returning to the IMPACS report and the silence which still pervades crime and punishment on the island. The case of the smart millionaire oil-man who took the former government for a ride on the island’s sea bed has also gone silent.
To his credit, Allen Chastanet has engaged the press more in his first year in office than his counterpart did in five. Chastanet likes to explain himself. Compared to the former PM, one would think that Chastanet was a former University lecturer and teacher. When these two politicians are compared to President Trump, it is easy to see which one hates the media as much as Trump does.
Chastanet may be described as phlegmatic – cool, composed, unruffled and imperturbable, almost to a fault. In the rough and tumble world of power politics, this can be a strength as well as a weakness. The trick is to know when to turn from man to lion, to get his plans implemented. Viewed objectively, the journey continues, the people are at peace and God is in charge.