By Caribbean News Global contributor
CASTRIES, St Lucia – Former prime minister and parliamentary representative for Vieux Fort South, Dr Kenny D. Anthony, declined an invitation from the Water and Sewerage Authority(WASCO) to attend a sod-turning ceremony for its so-called Southern headquarters, January 30, 2020, citing, ‘no approved plans or drawings, an act of provocation.’
Subsequent to acknowledging WASCO’s invitation, Dr Anthony expressed to the general manager that his “investigations indicate that up to the present time no drawings have been submitted to the Development Control Authority (DCA), of the proposed building,” and that, “in effect, you have invited me to an event to construct a building for which no approved plans or drawings are available.”
Moreover, said Dr Anthony, “It is deeply troubling and regrettable that WASCO has chosen to emulate the actions of the government which holds sod turning ceremonies for proposed projects when no approved plans for such projects exist.”
In relation to the [no] tendering process, Dr Anthony noted that he had, “seen no invitation to tender for the construction of the proposed building” adding that, “It is my sincere hope [that] as a public authority, WASCO would abide by the laws which govern public procurement and the building’s construction will, in early course, be put out to tender so all contractors would have a fair opportunity to bid.”
In reference to an act of provocation, Dr Anthony expressed his displeasure at the site selected for the building.
“I note, too, that the proposed building will be constructed on the site selected by the previous government (Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) to construct an Administrative Centre for the use of my constituents in Vieux Fort South and indeed, the entire southern community. Construction of that facility had commenced and the current government, within days of being elected, stopped its construction. If it has not already done so, it will have to pay significant damages to the contractor who was engaged by the National Insurance Corporation (NIC) of Saint Lucia.
“I have no doubt that WASCO could have found an alternative site for its building but instead chose to follow the lead of the government of Saint Lucia, and, like it, engage in a decision that is vindictive and provocative. I will not condone such action. I will have no part in such misbehavior.”
Dr Anthony emphasized that while he had “absolutely no objections to WASCO providing its staff with decent accommodation” but [he found] it strange that WASCO would choose to invest in a building at this time when the water supply to the Vieux Fort community needs urgent upgrading.
Dr Anthony continued: “I have no doubt that you are aware that whenever it rains, the water supply to certain parts of the constituency has to be shut down because of turbidity. The former [SLP] government had signed an agreement with the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) in the amount of US$19.675(EC$52.9) million dollars to improve Vieux Fort’s water supply to address that issue.
“This project would have finally resolved the problems of providing the people of Vieux Fort South with a safe and reliable supply of water. A public signing ceremony was held to announce this investment. WASCO was the designated executing agency of the project. After the general elections, the government of Saint Lucia, aided and abetted by WASCO’s board of directors, terminated the agreement with the Caribbean Development Bank.
“Moreover, despite the appearance of the line item in the estimates of expenditure and repeated statements by the responsible minister that the project exists, it is now nearly four years and there are no signs that the upgrade of the water supply is underway,” the former prime minister said.
Dr Anthony also disclosed that “the people of Vieux Fort South are strong and resilient. They understand full-well when their priorities for an improved quality of life are not the priorities of the government of Saint Lucia and its agencies.”