Alva Bap­tiste Warns: The Tem­per­a­ture’s Ris­ing!

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - ---JSA

Nearly ten years since the St. Jude Hos­pi­tal fire, work has once again be­gun on the re­de­vel­op­ment project. In an ad­dress to the na­tion last Novem­ber, the govern­ment an­nounced that a new wing will be con­structed, and this week, early prepara­tory works con­tin­ued on the site. While the wing has been de­scribed as the best op­tion by Prime Min­is­ter Allen Chas­tanet, and is ex­pected to take 18 months to com­plete, the Saint Lu­cia Labour Party has con­tin­ued to raise its con­cerns on the project.

On Wed­nes­day, op­po­si­tion MPs Moses Jn. Bap­tiste and Alva Bap­tiste, along with other party rep­re­sen­ta­tives, con­vened a press con­fer­ence out­side the hos­pi­tal site. As con­trac­tors went about their work, the meet­ing got un­der­way with the op­po­si­tion rep­re­sen­ta­tives voic­ing their com­plaints.

Alva Bap­tiste de­clared that at this point in time, “The tem­per­a­ture is ris­ing,” and promised that more protest marches might be on the SLP’s cards. “If for ex­am­ple they at­tempt to de­mol­ish our build­ings,” he said, “then we are go­ing to be very mo­bi­lized and we are go­ing to take ac­tion! But you are go­ing to know about those ac­tions if there is a need to pro­ceed in that par­tic­u­lar di­rec­tion. The sec­ond thing: if they at­tempt to give a pri­vate con­cern our build­ings, the Saint Lu­cia Labour Party, af­ter win­ning the next gen­eral elec­tion, in­tends to com­plete those build­ings

for the use of the pa­tients and staff.”

Bap­tiste as­sured re­porters that the SLP would not rec­og­nize any con­tracts be­tween the govern­ment and any pri­vate en­tity. “I want to speak to those third par­ties di­rectly,” he said. “Do not en­ter into any con­trac­tual ar­range­ments with Allen Chas­tanet and the UWP ad­min­is­tra­tion, be­cause the SLP and the peo­ple of Saint Lu­cia are op­posed to any pri­va­ti­za­tion of St. Jude’s hos­pi­tal.”

Moses Jn. Bap­tiste ac­knowl­edged that his govern­ment had failed to com­plete the project af­ter five years of prom­ises to “de­liver a state of the art hos­pi­tal be­fore the end of 2015” but point­edly added, “We never stopped work.” The ref­er­ence was to the fact that soon af­ter tak­ing of­fice in June 2016, the Chas­tanet govern­ment de­cided that to spend more money on the half-com­pleted, egre­giously con­structed St. Jude struc­ture made no sense. Moses in­sisted that, “When this govern­ment came into of­fice, it would have been six months till the com­ple­tion of the hos­pi­tal. They found build­ings that were in progress. This is not a sit­u­a­tion where the govern­ment came in and there was no work hap­pen­ing. They stopped work on the hos­pi­tal for three years.” Bap­tiste con­tends that pa­tients and staff should have been trans­ferred from the Ge­orge Od­lum Sta­dium by now.

In a re­cent in­ter­view with the STAR, Prime Min­is­ter Allen Chas­tanet ad­dressed the amount of time it has taken for that move to be made. He stated that he un­der­stands the anx­i­ety, and his govern­ment hopes in the quick­est pos­si­ble time to present the new St. Jude. “We in­her­ited a mess,” said the prime min­is­ter, “but again I’m not one who con­tin­ues to blame oth­ers; I have to ac­cept what the re­al­ity is.” The prime min­is­ter said that com­plet­ing the project would have taken more than a year, and would’ve cost in ex­cess of $100 mil­lion.

An­other shot at re­build­ing the St. Jude hos­pi­tal has be­gun. Will this time be the charm? SLP MPs Alva Bap­tiste (left) and Moses Jn. Bap­tiste.

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