It’s the end of the year and, as societal norms dictate, it is time to write out our resolutions for the New Year. Whether it’s saving more money, going to the gym consistently or eating healthier, it’s safe to say that almost all of these bright ideas for personal growth will be abandoned come March. Those are risks we can afford to take. However, when there is no proper hospital to house us after we have succumbed to our poor eating habits, or when there is hardly a stadium or sporting facility to use to exercise, strict adherence to our resolutions might just be necessary.
For the past decade or so, every National Budget has become the ‘New Year’s Resolutions’ of our government. We listen attentively to promises of local growth, social and economical devolvement and the other niceties of political parlance. Beyond the allure of these grandiose ideas, the reality is that, just like our forgetting promises to save and exercise, they never come to full fruition. For the weary reader who may have lost track of the numerous unaccomplished ‘resolutions’, allow this to remind you.
In September 2009 the solitary hospital in the south suffered levels of fire damage so extreme that is was rendered uninhabitable. The St Jude Hospital was consequently, and continues to be, housed at the George Odlum Stadium – the ‘hospidium’ as some put it. Housing sick patients, pregnant women and accident victims in a place meant to facilitate sporting activities was the least of the problems. The lack of necessary medical amenities leaves southern patients no choice but to travel to the north for medical care. Subsequent administrations remain wrapped up in investigations and allegations of mismanagement of funds, and the importance of resolving improper medical facilities has largely been ignored.
In the same breath, the under-used forensic lab hinders the country’s ability to reach full sustainability in that field. Recently re-opened, the Tapion-based forensic lab still is not fully functional. Although structural damage was remedied, test samples cannot be used as reliable evidence, and need to be sent to other countries for final test results. Again, the efficiency of medical facilities seems to be put on the back burner. When hundreds of Saint Lucians begin to suffer various medical conditions due to the failure of government’s past and present to stick to their resolutions, where will the people seek proper help?
With the amenities of the St Jude Hospital taking up space at the George Odlum Stadium, it has provided an excuse not to rectify the mammoth infrastructural issues. For years, the stadium stands have been deemed unfit, and spectators of the limited sporting events that do occur there must sit at field and track level. The deteriorating roof poses a great danger, and pieces become airborne and volatile. The sporting facility is slowly being pushed out by the hospital. Imagine having to go through a hospital waiting room to access the track! The infrastructural problems at the George Odlum Stadium existed prior to its adoption of the hospital, yet have remained unresolved.
Age-old promises to fix roads, bridges, and gutters continue to remain falsities. Failure to maintain schools across the island fosters unhealthy physical environments for staff and students. In Choiseul, the works at the secondary school have been subject to long periods of stagnation. The Castries Comprehensive and Babonneau Secondary Schools remain in dire need of structural fixes. The Cultural Centre has outlived its anticipated lifespan, and efforts to relocate it have not sat well with the cultural community. Failure to pay substantially large water bills at the Daren Sammy Cricket Grounds are the result of impartiality on the part of the necessary authorities.
Resolving the issues associated with strategic infrastructure on the island seems to be placed on a ‘to do later’ list. Whereas any regular person can choose to abandon their new year’s resolutions by the third month, when a government neglects to resolve the issues most pressing to the citizenry, it devalues the persons who initially put it in a position of authority.
In 2018, when we promise ourselves to increase our monthly savings, to trade white bread for wheat, and to pay for a gym membership, let us hope that the resolutions put forth in the next parliamentary sitting, as well as those promised well in the past, come to full fruition and that the country can become the best version of itself.