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Minister Francis determined to clean up Kingstown

Minister Francis  determined to clean up Kingstown

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“We have been talking tourism for years, and we have been talking of tourism sites and developing this country, but I think Kingstown right now is in a state where we have to clean it up.”

Addressing Parliament last Friday, the Minister of Transport, Works, Urban Development and Local Government Julian Francis has warned that he intends to finish the job he started over four years ago of beautifying Kingstown.{{more}}

“We will find the resources to do it one way or the other… What I started four or five years ago, we will get it in 2016!” declared Francis.

He explained that he will be hosting a town hall meeting with business owners, operators and building owners to discuss the way forward on achieving this target.

Francis said that in passing the Kingstown Fruit and Vegetable Market area recently, he overheard a group of tourists opining on how “filthy” the area was.

“It struck me in the middle of my stomach,” he lamented, later pointing out that he will be conducting a walk-through of the market sometime this month to identify points that need improvement.

Francis further noted that recently he took a walk through ‘Little Tokyo’ and was “appalled” at what he witnessed.

“The stench, I had to move!”

He also insisted that despite accusations of this being an attempt to victimize local businessman Leon ‘Bigger Bigs’ Samuel, this is not his intention.

“I have absolutely nothing to do with Bigger Bigs. I am there to clean up Little Tokyo, and there is a particular property, which I think is owned by the Veiras, that seems to have put up a recent construction; and in my view, it is blocking the flow of drainage out of Little Tokyo.”

The Minister said that in particular he will be focusing on Heritage Square, and will be removing temporary structures, with the assistance of BRAGSA, that are not in accordance with the rules and regulations of the Kingstown Town Board.

He also said that he wants to introduce a ban on wooden pallets for certain uses within Kingstown – with a preference to sending all unused pieces to the incinerator to be destroyed.

“Some conditions have to be put at the port, and with business houses, and container owners that when this pallet wood comes in, that we have to have some proper control on it. It is too easily accessible, too cheap and we are building a lot of ugly looking furniture with it in the city.”

Francis also suggested that the Government build standardized seating around town, with the intent to include advertising space on them for business owners within the private sector who contribute funds to the overall clean-up.

He acknowledged that many will dismiss the idea of a clean-up as being “far-fetched,” but he is of the opinion that it will work because he believes that those within the private sector share his opinion of the need for change.

Additionally, Francis warned of another ‘clean-up’ of the services provided by the watchmen employed within the department of Government security.

“It is the intention of the Ministry this year to fine tune the operations of the ‘watchman’ service – the Government security services. Too often we have two and three watch-men to a school, but two [or] three times a month you have schools broken into and hard-earned resources disappear with very little recompense…

“I am putting all of them on notice that we intend to carry out an audit of the… watchmen operation… and to improve it!”

In addition to this, the Transport Minister said that he will be “beefing up” on public transportation for school-age children – which will not only see drivers being put through training to improve their driving skills, but also have them dress and operate in a more “presentable” manner.

He also urged students to desist from defacing/vandalizing the interiors of the transport vehicles, and to “treat it as if it were your own”. (JSV)

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