Sod Turned for Vieux Fort Ad­min Com­plex

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

Anum­ber of ba­sic ser­vices will be­come avail­able to res­i­dents of the south of Saint Lucia within the next two years, thanks to a project be­ing un­der­taken by the Govern­ment of Saint Lucia in part­ner­ship with the Na­tional In­surance Cor­po­ra­tion (NIC). Sod was turned this week for an EC$64 mil­lion, 75,000 square foot Ad­min­is­tra­tive Com­plex in Beane­field, Vieux Fort. The sod-turn­ing cer­e­mony was held at the project site on Wed­nes­day, April 20, 2016.

The sod-turn­ing cer­e­mony was ad­dressed by Hon. Dr. Kenny D. An­thony, Prime Min­is­ter and Min­is­ter for Fi­nance, Eco­nomic Af­fairs, Plan­ning and So­cial Se­cu­rity, and Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment for Vieux Fort South. In at­ten­dance were Hon. Stan­ley Felix, Min­is­ter for Phys­i­cal De­vel­op­ment, Hous­ing and Ur­ban Re­newal; Mr. Matthew Mathurin, Di­rec­tor of NIC; mem­bers of the Board and In­vest­ment Com­mit­tee of NIC; Rayneau Ga­jad­har, Team Leader of Con­struc­tion and In­dus­trial Equip­ment Limited; and Wi­nall Joshua, Mayor of the town of Vieux Fort.

Con­ced­ing that ‘de­cen­tral­i­sa­tion’ has of­ten been spo­ken of, the Prime Min­is­ter pointed out that the con­cept had to be made “mean­ing­ful to peo­ple’s lives.” One of the ways to make this man­i­fest, he ex­plained, was to en­sure that strate­gic in­vest­ments – such as the project now be­ing un­der­taken by the NIC – en­com­pass all of Saint Lucia. This, he ex­plained, was the think­ing be­hind his pur­suit of this un­der­tak­ing, which he first pro­posed in 2012.

Said Dr. An­thony, “I have re­peat­edly made the point that there must be equity in our country, equity in in­vest­ment, equity in the treat­ment of our peo­ple wher­ever they might be. And it is a mes­sage that I have drummed into the Na­tional In­surance Cor­po­ra­tion, em­pha­sised time and time again, that all in­vest­ments should not be lo­cated in the north, in the Cas­tries Basin; that all work­ers of this country, wher­ever they may be lo­cated, con­trib­ute to the re­sources of the Na­tional In­surance Cor­po­ra­tion and they too must be part of the in­vest­ment ini­tia­tives of the Cor­po­ra­tion. In that spirit, I hope that whilst this in­vest­ment takes place here in Vieux Fort that, in time, NIC will turn its at­ten­tion to other towns, for ex­am­ple Soufriere and even to the rapidly de­vel­op­ing town of Gros Islet for other strate­gic in­vest­ments of this type.”

Dr. An­thony went on to ex­plain that de­liv­er­ing on his prom­ise to build this fa­cil­ity for the peo­ple of the south will reap ben­e­fits for res­i­dents not only in Vieux Fort but sur­round­ing com­mu­ni­ties as well. Re­fer­ring to his “deep ela­tion” that this project is now be­com­ing a re­al­ity, he pointed out that the is­land’s south­ern­most town is a hub, and that the es­tab­lish­ment of the Ad­min­is­tra­tive Com­plex will fill a gap­ing void for tens of thou­sands of citizens in the south of the is­land.

Dr. An­thony con­tin­ued, “The fact is the town of Vieux Fort is like the mini me­trop­o­lis for the sur­round­ing con­stituen­cies. Peo­ple of Mi­coud South, Mi­coud North, Vieux Fort North, La­borie, way back to Choiseul, come here to do their busi­ness on a reg­u­lar ba­sis, and they turn to Vieux Fort for the fa­cil­i­ties and ser­vices that Govern­ment of­fers.

“We also have to make some gi­ant strides in the ad­min­is­tra­tion of this country. We are man­ag­ing a country that is too cen­tralised. Our citizens have to travel to Cas­tries to se­cure ba­sic ser­vices. It can­not be right that some­one re­quires a civil sta­tus record and they must pay a bus to travel to Cas­tries, pay a bus to come back down, pay a bus to see whether the record has been pre­pared, reach up there, it’s not pre­pared, pay a bus, come back down, and it’s a never end­ing story. Other coun­tries, huge coun­tries, large coun­tries, have been able to de­cen­tralise ba­sic ser­vices. For some strange rea­son, here in Saint Lucia, de­spite our size, we have not been able to ac­com­plish this.”

The Vieux Fort Ad­min­is­tra­tive Com­plex is set for com­ple­tion in 2018.

NIC Di­rec­tor Matthew Mathurin with Prime Min­is­ter Kenny An­thony per­form­ing the cer­e­mo­nial sod-turn­ing on Wed­nes­day.

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