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Recreation Centres

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The number of motor vehicles in SVG doubled from about 12,500 in 2001 to over 25,000 in 2009. Three factors have been mainly responsible for this.

Firstly, people now have higher incomes. In 2001 income per head was $6,100. The corresponding figure in 2008 was $8,200.{{more}}

A second factor contributing to the increase in the number of vehicles on the road has been our currency arrangements. We have a Central Bank, the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB). In fact, though we call it a Central Bank, it functions in much the same way as the Currency Board which preceded it. For every Eastern Caribbean dollar issued, the ECCB ensures that it has the equivalent in US dollars, thus we have an exchange rate of $2.67 for every US$1. Had we not had this sort of arrangement, it would probably have taken many more of our dollars to make US$1. With such a rate, we would simply not have had the US$ to import vehicles the way we do.

Thirdly, the expansion of our motor vehicle fleet has been fuelled by the availability of used cars from Japan. In the old days, when we imported cars they were usually new ones. Today they are mostly used. A used car costs far less than a new one and so many more people can now afford a car.

The dramatic increase in vehicle numbers has impacted on our island in several ways: Traffic has become more congested; checks to ensure that licenses and insurance certificates are valid have had to be stepped up; the need for road maintenance has increased ; mechanic shops have spread all over the island.; most of the new businesses at Arnos Vale now involve vehicles- spare part shops, auto rentals, and tyre changing services; the car boat comes once a month, and government revenue is in part dependent on the cars it brings. All these issues merit closer attention, but that is not the purpose of this article.

Late on Easter Monday I ventured forth from my home and noted there was a constant stream of vehicles going towards Kingstown from the Windward. The next day I learnt that every worthwhile beach from Fancy down had been occupied by picnickers. Obviously, with all these cars, buses and trucks, people were out looking for somewhere to enjoy their Easter. The available facilities were simply not enough. The increase in income of about 30 per cent and, more importantly, the doubling in the number of vehicles have been taking place during the ULP administration. The ULP can, therefore, claim to be a victim of its own success. People’s circumstances have improved to such an extent that they can afford to enjoy themselves much more than they had in the past. The Government, however, had not been caught completely unawares. As soon as it came to office, it built a swimming pool at Rawacou. It later set up two enterprises, the Airport Company and National Properties, which are addressing the recreation issue on a much grander scale.

The Airport Company’s interest is in Rawacou. The swimming pool is already there. Government has also bought 7 acres of land in the area; nearby National Parks have constructed 3 gazebos to rent. The Company is anticipating that when the airport is complete, it will be able to relocate some of its office buildings in Rawacou to serve as cabanas. Using equipment it now owns, it hopes to build an even bigger swimming pool than the existing one. With the National Trust it has already purchased 3 acres of land at Escape, to establish a Heritage Park. The upshot of all this should be a much bigger resort than any presently existing on mainland SVG.

The other company, National Properties, then under the Chairmanship of Victor Hadley, decided to create a recreational centre at Orange Hill. It will cater for locals, expatriate Vincentians and tourists, particularly those from the cruiseships.

The imaginative and farseeing Victor employed a designer/ builder to prepare a plan. It includes: 1. The remodeling of the former Sinson residence into a small hotel. 2. Conversion of the old sugar mill into a museum. (National Parks has in fact just completed the restoration of the building.) 3. Cleaning out the aqueduct and restoring the water flow to turn the mill wheel. (National Parks has also just restored the aqueduct.) 4. Construction of a large central swimming pool with a bar and a 5,000 square feet picnic area with BBQ pits and volley ball courts. 5. Building a car park .6. Developing a botanical garden and landscaping the area around the small hotel.

Constant sniping at Mr. Hadley led him to resign from the Chairmanship. Deprived of his entrepreneurial talent, National Properties now seeks to implement the project in a joint venture with another Government company.