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Rural development lacking in North Leeward district

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Fri, Jan 27. 2012

Editor: First, I must say thanks to all the newspapers that keep us up to date about what is happening in our nation of St Vincent and the Grenadines: Searchlight, The Vincentian, The News, The Herald, and many online news agencies.{{more}}

I am appealing to the Ministry of Rural Transformation. Rural areas cover a great portion of St Vincent and the Grenadines. It is also these areas that face seemingly intractable socio-economic challenges. Some of our farming and forestry businesses still need to build their competiveness on both the local and international front. More generally, the average income in rural towns and villages is lower than that in Kingstown and the urban areas. The skills base is also narrow, and the service sector less developed.

It is crystal clear that the area is lacking in road improvement, health facilities, sporting facilities, banking, and there is need to develop a port of entry and Coast Guard base. The area is still poorly patrolled in terms of anti narcotic control. Basically, the Coast Guard does not patrol the seas between North Leeward, Richmond Vale Bay and the waters just south of southern St Lucia with great vigilance. Hence we need rural development in North Leeward. The Ministry of Rural Transformation, in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism, should conduct a feasibility study on the economical and infrastructural development of North Leeward.

Chateaubeliar is strategically located on the sheltered side of the island. That is one of the reasons why it was chosen as one of the four towns placed on the Leeward or sheltered side of St Vincent. This northern town is nestled between Barrouallie and Richmond Vale. This area is ideal for a coast guard base as well as a port of entry. The Ministry of National Security should look into this. It is one of the most vulnerable bays to embark upon for narcotic trading and illegal immigration. Emphasis should be placed on establishing a Coast Guard base at Chateaubelair Bay.

Chateaubelair, with all respects due to the inhabitants, looks like same old town set back in colonial era. It is sometimes a shame to see the broken down streets. Back in the days, I remember how people bragged about how bustling and enterprising it was. And one important thing is we, here in the Diaspora, remit over one million dollars to SVG annually. We believe that the Bank of St Vincent and the Grenadines should set up a proper banking system; improve the services offered. Install ATM machines and even set up an electronic money transfer service like Moneygram or Western Union transfer point. We should not be travelling all the way to Kingstown to collect and transact minor money business at a secure location.

In terms of sports, North Leeward has two main playing fields: Petit Bordel Playing Field, which is heavily overused, and a semi completed playing field at Cumberland Bay. It will be quite beneficial to have the latter completed so that we can evenly distribute and strengthen sporting activities in North Leeward. Let Cumberland Playing Field be the ideal cricket ground and Petit Bordel stand as the soccer field. Please equip these fields with a players’ pavilion and changing facilities. If possible, add netball, basketball and volleyball courts to encourage other sports. Cumberland Bay is an ideal location for a cricket stadium. This is so because Cumberland is a less populated district while Petit Bordel Playing Field is set around a very populated village.

In terms of health, we need a better or larger hospital in Chateaubelair. We need better equipped quarters for nurses, and a house for a permanently stationed doctor. This is the only hospital between the Barrouallie health center and Richmond Vale area.

So we as Vincentians should not be side-tracked by the politics that encompass our geographical districts and zones. This appeal is not to praise any political party, SVG Green Party, ULP, NDP or PRESS, or the Independent voter, but instead to reach out to those in authority to alleviate impoverishment and at the same time help improve the living standards of the citizens of St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Well, imagine one gas station between Chateaubelair and Buccament /Pembroke. I remember waiting for an entire day to get a fill up at Chateaubelair. The excuse being the fuel truck did not come from Kingstown with the fuel. Pathetic!

Now that we have the Argyle International Airport, we will surely need a steady supply of Diesel, Gasoline and Jet fuel. So if SOL is in charge, we will not want to be waiting to get fuel to drive to our destinations. With the advent of an international airport, we are talking about diesel fuel to supply cargo trucks mini vans etc, and jet fuel to refuel aircrafts. All of these problems could be alleviated if the Government decides to set a small fuel field or have a boat pump gas/diesel directly from the harbour at Chateaubelair.

All of these are suggestions from concerned citizens. These points are not politically driven. In my honesty, any government, NGO, social group, Church group, interest group that comes up with a solution to correct these developments will be favourably supported.

Again, we need these, and it is not a political message, but a social and infrastructural appeal to all Vincentian and the Governmental ministries concerned.

Tyrone Charles
Vincy in the Diaspora

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