By Caribbean News Global contributor
CASTRIES, St Lucia – The competence of infrastructure minister Stephenson King, the human capital and skills of his ministry are of primary focus, representative of bad road conditions island-wide.
Last Saturday at a New York Townhall, the same was lamented to which the minister attempted to reply with the following utterances:
“We cannot fix roads during the rainy season” and relative to his engineering aptitude counselled “oil and water don’t mix, […] .”
Minister King continued: “ Every road that is constructed in Saint Lucia is designed with a lifespan of 15 years”.
The senior minister’s guidance is instructive to which road construction on the island and the exorbitant cost is no less akin to farm roads, that usually accompany poor drainage and/or none in obvious cases, adequate signage and the lack of road lay-bys.
Notably, the tonnage of motor vehicles, construction equipment, container trucks and earth-moving trucks are not suitable for Saint Lucia’s road architecture, tonnage, movability, safety and year-round usage.
Heavy rainfall over the weekend associated with the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) contributed to mudslides and flooding throughout-out the island. The decision to close schools on Monday, September 26, was due to inclement weather.
In a press release September 27, the ministry of infrastructure said:
“Over the last two months; ever since the commencement of the hurricane season, there has been serious deterioration of Saint Lucia’s road network as a result of the predominant torrential rains which the Island has been experiencing so far this year.”
Hitherto, the vision and work plan of the senior minister and the ministry of infrastructure, to undertake a precise schedule of works, issued a press release, headlined – ‘The deterioration of Saint Lucia’s roads as a consequence of recent heavy rains,’ is but a farce, that points to incompetence, resource allocation, road maintenance and management.
Loosley-based, minister King’s statement reads:
“Unfortunately, the efforts by the department of infrastructure, ports and transport to implement its routine road maintenance program have been marred by the adverse environmental working conditions caused by the persistency and frequency of both intermittent and torrential rain.”
In a calendar year, everyone in the tropics recognizes the months associated with the dry season, the rainy season and the hurricane season. Perhaps the senior minister and the department of infrastructure should be gifted with the Farmers’ Almanac to consult daily on long-range weather predictions.
Meanwhile, Saint Lucians survive a strange combination of political patronage and punishment for road construction, the department of infrastructure said, “it will however continue its concentration on unclogging of drains, culverts and clearing roadways at this time, since it is impossible to conduct any serious or effective road repairs.”
To better minds, unconventional thinking suggests that preparation was not possible ahead of the hurricane season, for whatever reason, however: is now the time? In these times, it is incredible how senior minister King expedites his “expert skill or knowledge,” at the expense of taxpayers. While tactlessly, the department of infrastructure, says it is “continuing its assessment of the damage caused to the country’s road network to date, in preparation for rehabilitative works, to be undertaken, once the climatic conditions improve.”
Inclusive of road conditions on the island, Saint Lucians also have to “embrace” incomparable differences between a speed bump, a hump and a bump.
The design and placement of sleeping policeman – juddar bar – lying-down policeman – depending on one’s orientation is rather interesting to navigate, and/or deter motorists on badly constructed and maintained roads, albeit, senior minister King urged, “the motoring public to drive safely and exercise caution when navigating the roads to avoid loss of lives and damage to property.”
There is an apparent need to refresh the ministry for infrastructure, ports, transport, physical development and urban renewal with contemporary thinking and a better alternative to a long-standing policy. It is also important to keep learning and to adopt pragmatism in conformity to best practices.
Deciding on whether it is “graffe” or “seniors insight” in the normal method of operation, senior minister King remarks in New York and the recent statement conveys anxiety rather than confidence.
Either one or the terms referenced is problematic in furtherance of the development of Saint Lucia. The priority to crosshairs and indifference are ultimately transient at this moment.