History is in the making today as the Cabinet of ministers will convene a sitting of Cabinet for the first time in Vieux Fort, ever!
At the swearing in ceremony of the Cabinet of Ministers on Tuesday June 14 after the June 6, 2016 general elections which was held at the Philip Marcellin Grounds in Vieux Fort, newly elected Prime Minister Allen Chastanet told the crowd of thousands, “It was also important that this ceremony take place here in the south. The south has suffered for a very long time. The highest level of unemployment and the highest level of poverty but yet the greatest opportunity for growth. And I am here, and my government is here to say to you that we see you, we hear you, we are with you, and we will make this thing change together.”
That was a clear sign of the Allen Chastanet administration’s commitment to focusing on the south, particularly Vieux Fort, which had been the focus of much of the United Workers Party election campaign.
Although Section 61 (1) of the Constitution of Saint Lucia declares that, “There shall be a Cabinet if Ministers for Saint Lucia which shall consist of the Prime Minister and the other Ministers” nowhere does it pose any restriction or offers any directive as to the location where the Cabinet of Ministers shall meet.
For many years Vieux Fort had been declared the ‘New Frontier’ yet never evolved past what many considered to be a ghost town with high unemployment, and overrun by stray dogs.
The move to convene Cabinet in Vieux Fort today is an unambiguous move to show the dedicated focus of this government to decentralize its operations and is a symbolic gesture to highlight its intention in continuing to focus on the south of the island.
This has been clearly articulated by Prime Minister Allen Chastanet as much emphasis has been placed on projects in the Vieux Fort.
Soon after taking office the people of Saint Lucia heard about the DSH Project estimated to total over EC$2 Billion including apartments, hotels, and other high calibre projects.
In 2017 after OJO Labs moved into the industrial area adjacent to Hewanorra International Airport, and because of the capabilities of the new hires it soon increased the the expected staff. It currently employs 233 youth (to increase by 25 every month) and estimated to peak at 700 by end of 2020.
The Hewanorra International Airport Redevelopment Project is another major project to be undertaken in the south, expected to employ 700 Saint Lucians.
The DSH Racetrack has been underway for over a year and is scheduled to hold its first race on December 13 – National Day in Saint Lucia.
A deep water cruise ship port in Vieux Fort, accommodating the largest cruise ships (Quantum Class) of 6000 passengers is expected to get underway soon and expected to inject much employment and business opportunities for the youth and businesses which have been stifled for years.
It is anticipated that many Vieux Fortians who traveled or migrated up north in order to obtain employment would now return to the south.
A host of hotels, and other significant investments are expected to make Vieux Fort home and solidify the government’s promise to revitalize the south like never before.
Destroyed by fire in 2009 St. Jude Hospital has been mired in controversy all surrounding the inability to be completed after the spending of EC$135 Million.
Prime Minister Allen Chastanet has also put on record that the St. Jude Hospital project will be completed during this current term of office.