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A Season of Irritations - July 25, 2005

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A Season of Irritations



INTRODUCTION

We are in the rainy season and whether we believe it or not, heavy and constant rainfall can affect our moods and well-being. Other developments might well worsen the situation.

Let me explain.

You will recall that during my Budget address I announced the commencement of a series of capital works ranging from work in the water sector, road works and private sector developments in the Tourism Sector, as well as construction activity by the Air and Seaports Authority (SLASPA) . While these projects will undoubtedly create new opportunities for local businesses and also provide opportunities for employment, there is a more important matter which I would wish to talk about today. This matter will really test our resolve as a people to cooperate with one another, manage our tempers and respect each otherís rights.

EARTH MOVING ACTIVITIES

During the period of construction there will be lots of earth moving activities. Roads and drains will be dug; construction material will need to be transported. Our ports of entry will be busy with the importation of construction materials. These activities will cause inconvenience, delays and disruptions. And on top of all this some of these construction activities will commence during the rainy season. So we can well imagine how affected persons will feel as all these scheduled activities will be undertaken during periods of heavy downpours, since it is expected that we will have an active hurricane season. We are all going to feel irritated and annoyed during this period of activity and some will be looking for someone to blame.

INFRASTRUCTURAL WORK IN WATER SECTOR

Let me expound what I mean. Very soon a contractor will be identified to commence the infrastructural work to be undertaken in the water sector. The work will involve the upgrading of pumps at the Roseau Dam, the elimination of the bottleneck that exists in the transmission line between the dam and the treatment plant at Ciceron. This will involve some excavation work as new pipes are put in to replace the existing ones. This should not prove too inconvenient as the proposed routing will not be along busy thoroughfares. However, a significant component of the infrastructural works will involve the laying of pipes between a newly installed tank at the Morne (near the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College) and Bocage and then on to Hill 20 in Babonneau. This will involve the excavation along the road that runs on the ridge from the Morne to Bocage and on to Hill 20. During the excavation, the road will need to be closed in some areas or reduced to one lane traffic.

So citizens who live in this area as well as those who normally use this route to go to Forresterre, Ti Rocher and environs will be asked to exercise extreme caution when using the road. I know that this construction activity will wear thin the patience of drivers, pedestrians and residents of the community, but I wish to urge your understanding while the Government attempts to ensure that there is a reasonable supply of water to the community and residents further north.

REHABILITATION OF RUNWAY

Another example is the work to be undertaken in rehabilitating the runway at George F. L. Charles Airport. Already, the work to be undertaken has been met with some public criticism and reaction from airlines. But it must be understood that the work is necessary in order to preserve the integrity of the airport as well as to provide a safe operating environment for the airlines and the passengers who use the airport. The way I see it is that in balancing the options available, there must be consideration given to the cost of undertaking the project and the reliability of the consultants and contractors to deliver the project on time and within budget.

During my Budget Address earlier this year, I implored all users of the airport to be patient as the works are going to inconvenience all who use the facility. Some more than others. I have been reliably informed that the best cost effective option to resurface the airport will involve the approach of repairing sections of the runway, which will be undertaken during the night, and therefore leaving the airport open for daytime activity. It is inevitable that at some time during the complete resurfacing of the runway that the airport would have to be closed completely. It is like building a house. At some point all energies must be focused on completing the roof structure and covering the house before plastering the inside walls and laying tiles and painting inside walls. And so it is with the resurfacing of the runway. The final section to make the runway complete would involve the curtailing of business activity at the airport for a very short period of time.

I have requested SLASPA to continue ensuring that the traveling public be kept informed on the progress of the work.

REDEVELOPMENT OF CASTRIES GROS-ISLET HIGHWAY

During this week I will be heading a delegation to hold discussions in Kuwait with the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development. The purpose of the discussions is to finalise funding arrangements for the redevelopment of the Castries to Gros Islet Highway. You may have heard the Minister for Communications and Works recently on the revised plans for the highway, and therefore based on these options I will be seeking the Kuwait Fundís approval to finance the new designs to the highway. If all goes well, it is expected that work will commence on the highway sometime in October of this year.

The redevelopment of the highway will involve the expansion and realignment of certain sections, as well as the construction of roundabouts near the Friendship Inn, the Choc Junction and Mongiraud. The Vigie roundabout will also be upgraded. Four pedestrian footbridges will be constructed and the entire road will be resurfaced. Again the need for commuters and residents along the route to exercise patience and forbearance will be called upon.

RECONSTRUCTION OF EAST COAST HIGHWAY

As if all of this was not enough, motorists will have to contend with delays on the East Coast Highway. Already, delays are being experienced because of the reconstruction of the section between Grande Riviere and Fond Dor. Reconstruction will accelerate as Government tackles the section from Manoel Street, through Cul de Sac, Bexon and on to Grande Riviere. Taxi drivers will have to explain the delays of our visitors. Minibus drivers will need to take special care as they ply the route from Castries to Vieux Fort, Choiseul and elsewhere.

OTHER PUBLIC SECTOR CONSTRUCTION

Traffic will also be affected on the Millennium Highway when construction of the two new hospitals commence. Construction of the Psychiatric Hospital, will hopefully, start in October. Before then, an access road has to be built from the highway onto the site. So, watch out for more delays.

DEVELOPMENTS IN TOURISM SECTOR

During my Budget Address, I also announced the commencement of a number of private sector projects particularly in the Tourism Sector. Some of these projects, based on information that I have received from the developers are likely to commence during the third and fourth quarters of this year.

  1. The first is the Landing at Rodney Bay. This project is estimated to cost US$120 million. This property will comprise 50 villas and 144 condominiums and will include an impressive array of marine facilities;
     
  2. The next project is Praslin Bay Resort. This project is estimated to cost US$ 90 million. This property will consist of executive suites, condominiums, conference facilities and an 18 hole championship golf course. I understand that the ground breaking ceremony is scheduled for August 04, 2005.
     
  3. The former Wyndham Morgan Bay, now owned by the Almond group of hotels, has already commenced refurbishing work and an additional 100 rooms will be added to this property;
     
  4. Then there is Port St. Lisi, the proposed development by Choc Estate and C.O. Williams of Barbados. This US$147 million private marina at Choc Bay will be developed on 30 acres of land, with up to 200 residential units for sale.

While these developments are going to occur on private property, it is anticipated that construction material will be transported to the various construction sites. This will involve the movement of large trucks and containers over roads that would be under rehabilitation, as with the case of the Castries to Gros Islet highway. Unless planned properly, this could result in traffic delays, presenting inconveniences to commuters.

BREAKING EGGS TO MAKE OMLET

There is an old saying that in order to make an omelet you must break eggs. This is certainly going to be a season of irritation for most of our citizens. I wish to indicate to everyone that the Government will ensure that disruptions are minimized. In some cases it may be opportune for us to introduce some innovative mitigating factors, which I will be discussing with you at a later date. I know that we all want to see that developments that are programmed are completed on time. Therefore let us endure this season with patience, understanding, and with a quiet and mild spirit.

Until next time, please have a good week, be of good cheer and God Bless!
 

 

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