There is no doubt that Christmas is the greatest festivity in the Christian World – rightly so, for through it, we celebrate the birth of Christ, our redeemer. Christmas is a time of love, of hope and of sharing. It is these virtues that give Christmas its character of celebration, of joy.
It is in this spirit that I bring
glad tidings to all St. Lucians, especially the people of Babonneau who I have
the honour to represent. My dear people of Babonneau, a Merry Christmas, a Happy
and Prosperous 2006 to each and every one of you.
The Babonneau constituency
Talking about sharing, I would like to briefly reflect on some of the things we have been working on together – you and I, for the development of our beloved Babonneau.
During the past year the Babonneau constituency has made significant improvements in the areas of Health Care, Education, Road improvement, small mitigation projects, Electrification, job creation etc.
In the area of health care, we opened the La Guerre Health Post - thanks to the Poverty Reduction Fund.
We also re-commissioned the newly refurbished Babonneau Health Centre, funded by the CDB and BNTF.
Currently, there is the ongoing refurbishment of the Fond Assau Health Centre under the Economic Reconstruction Programme funded by the CDB/GOSL. Completion is expected early in the New Year.
We wish to take this opportunity to express our profound gratitude to the People and Government of Cuba for their most generous gift of restoring/improving the eyesight of approximately 100 persons within the Babonneau Constituency. On behalf of those persons and indeed all St. Lucians I wish to express profound thanks and gratitude for the Cuban Eye-care Programme.
In the area of Education
Under the World Bank funded Disaster Preparedness Project, the roof of the Fond Assau Primary School was replaced. Under the same project, the Babonneau Primary School will be similarly repaired, for which the tendering process is currently in train. Meanwhile, we look forward to the completion of the designs and tendering for the new (8) classroom block at the Fond Assau Primary School. If all goes according to plan, the ground breaking ceremony should take place in the first quarter of 2006.
With respect to Road improvement
The major reconstruction works on the La Croix/Grande Riviere road is now significantly complete. The Fond Assau/Chassin and La Croix/Des Barras roads, under the French funded Tertiary Roads Programme are at an advanced stage and nearing completion.
Minor repairs have been undertaken on a number of other roads. However, it is hoped that in the new year, major repairs will be carried out on the Babonneau main road, the Ti Chemin/Fond Assau(short cut) and the Cacoa/Girard Roads. Motorists, we know and feel your discomfort and pain. The attitude seems to be “No matter how many roads are reapaired/done, once mine is not done I have a cause for complaint”. Please be patient, understand that all the roads cannot be done at once.
Under the 2nd World Bank Disaster Mitigation project a number of small mitigation projects aimed at ameliorating the living conditions of many communities island-wide were undertaken. Specific to Babonneau was the construction of two causeways at Des Ablon in Boguis, and the Floris in Ti Morne. Also under this project a number of other small drainage works were completed.
To the hard working farmers in the Marquis River valley, relief is on the way. The long-awaited, long-promised replacement bridge has been designed and approval for tendering by way of a ‘no objection’ is being awaited from the World Bank.
In the area of rural Electrification
All communities have benefited under the rural electrification programme. However, particularly gratifying is the electrification for the farms in the Poix Doux area. For decades, the efforts of farmers at diversification have been frustrated for lack of power. Thanks to the generosity of LUCELEC new poultry and pig rearing ventures have began.
The completion of the Hill 20 project to replace the 6 inch raw water line with an 8 inch PVC pipe should result in a more reliable supply for the wider North-east Castries and Babonneau areas. However, domestic connections and the distribution network need to be upgraded to ensure an adequate supply to our numerous under-serviced communities.
In this regard, WASCO connected, free-of-charge 25 households in the Talvern area, whilst the distribution system to Boguis and Des Barras were upgraded. To both WASCO and LUCELEC, on behalf of the residents in of those communities – thank you.
Christmas is a time of giving, of caring, of bringing good cheer to the needy and the dispossessed. It is in this spirit that we welcome, with gratitude the launch of the People’s Republic of China’s Chinese Cooperation Fund, which provides a grant of $50,000 toward poverty alleviation in select communities. Through this initiative foot paths will be constructed in the Ti Conway area of Fond Assau at a cost of $25,000. Also approved for implementation is a community-managed, locally-chlorinated water storage and treatment project for the small Ravine Go/Lanfor community in Chassin.
Residents of Chassin and indeed all
of Fond Assau and its surrounding areas have reason to look toward 2006 with
renewed optimism. The scheduled opening of the Aerial Tram project early in the
new year will result in employment for over 75 persons; especially youth, with
the majority naturally coming from the immediate neighborhoods of Babonneau.
During construction the playing field was damaged and the youth were denied its
use for some six (6) months. We thank the sportsmen for their cooperation and
understanding and we look forward to the speedy and complete restitution of the
grounds by the Aerial Tram Company.
Thanks to Ministry
To my extended family, the Staff of the Ministry and associated agencies, thanks for your support during 2005. We must also thank the Almighty for his saving graces, sparing us the serious ravages of what was generally the most active hurricane season in over a century, both in terms of frequency and intensity.
The persistently high rainfall continued to challenge the capacities of the Ministry. However, with the completion of the drainage/disaster mitigation works in Castries and Anse-La-Raye, as well as the shore protection projects in Dennery, we will be better placed to cope in the future. The current disruptions and inconveniences caused by these projects would have proven worthwhile.
This is Christmas time. Let us celebrate, but with moderation. Let us also use Christmas as a time to reflect and also to recharge our energies through adequate rest, in order to face the challenges which lie ahead in the New Year.
2006 will be a watershed year. The extent to which we make the Cricket World Cup of 2007 a success will be determined by whether as a country, or as a region we are capable of meeting the challenges of completing the requisite infra-structure. In this regard, Government has embarked on numerous projects, designed to bring success in the Cricket World Cup and leave St. Lucians with a legacy of a much improved road an communication network.
This past year, working together,
we have achieved much in the development of our road network, traffic
management, utilities, infrastructure upgrade, meteorological services and the
development of our air and seaports. However, we still have a lot of work ahead.
Let us come together, in the true spirit of Christmas; let us work together to
bring prosperity to our nation.
I wish you a MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR.
May God Bless all of you.
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