Two groups of concerned citizens have thrown their support behind two public marches scheduled to take place this afternoon, one to be held in Castries and the other in Vieux Fort.
Concerned Citizens of St. Lucia (CCSL), a newly-formed organization, says it will join the St. Lucia Labour Party (SLP) in its protest march which starts at the Sab Playing Field at Vigie from 3:00 p.m.
Claiming to be an all-inclusive, non-partisan group with members throughout Saint Lucia, the group says its main issues of concern are: The DSH Project/investment for the south of the country (Vieux Fort); the subsequent addition of a Causeway linking Maria Islets to the mainland; the Dolphinarium earmarked for the Pigeon Island National Landmark in Gros Islet, and the current NICE Programme, where workers are now on the breadline, and other workers also because of announced closures and privatization of government institutions.
Last month, the group organized a whistle stop which took the form of a motorcade through the island’s north with stops in many communities delivering speeches, information and promotional material aimed at educating and empowering citizens.
The group also joined with the Vieux Fort Concerned Citizens Coalition for Change (VFCCCC) on April 30 in the protest march to lend support and unify people in protest against the DSH Project/Investment being implemented in Vieux Fort.
The CCSL insists and demands the following from the Allen Chastanet administration: accountability and transparency, especially with documents signed relating to the DSH investments, and that such investment be beneficial to Saint Lucia and Saint Lucians; that the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) be amended to remove the negative clauses; for the national treasures to remain untouched (Pigeon Island and Maria Islands); good governance that is dedicated to the people of Saint Lucia and saying no to nepotism and victimization.
The CCSL stated that since the SLP is voicing similar concerns as many people, as a non-partisan group, it will provide an avenue for non-politically aligned persons to join in the SLP protest. The group will wear the CCSL’s black and white t-shirts during the march.
Meanwhile, another newly-formed group, the Vieux Fort Coalition of Stakeholders for Development, has thrown its support behind the government and its efforts at getting St. Lucians to support the DSH project.
Saying it witnessed with amazement the relentless opposition mounted by some to current development efforts proposed by the Government of St. Lucia for the town of Vieux Fort, the group said that it was mindful of the acute problem of joblessness and economic stagnation which has plagued Vieux Fort and the south for some time.
“We are, therefore, open to engaging government in discussion that will result in consensus on the preferred approach for development that will change the fortunes of the various social sectors in Vieux Fort. Vieux Fort has always held promise for sustained economic growth particularly since being declared as the ‘New Frontier’ by the late Prime Minister, Sir John Compton. As part of his vision, Sir John spearheaded major investments such as: the Vieux Fort Air & Sea Ports, Windward & Leeward Brewery Limited, Halcyon Days Hotel, construction of Industrial Free Zones, etc. These investments served as major pillars and stimulated economic activity in Vieux Fort and indeed the entire south,” said the group.
In its support for the DSH project, the group pointed to the past 20 years during which Vieux Fort had witnessed the contraction of the south’s economy, resulting in the closure of a number of businesses, such as “Babalou” Supermarket, Sabi’s Restaurant, Sunshine Bookstore, Sadoo Supermarket, RBTT Bank, MaisonSalaison, Office Shop Bookstore, Palace House, Book Nook Stationery, among others.
Said the group: “Some of us have been casualties of the economic downturn and stagnation which has afflicted our once vibrant town. We have, therefore, organized ourselves to promote, advocate and provide support for the orderly, appropriate and sustainable development of Vieux Fort. The development of Vieux Fort can no longer be placed on the backburner. This is why we are excited by the renewed interest in Vieux Fort espoused by the current administration. We stand as willing partners with the Government of St. Lucia in this new outlook.”
The Vieux Fort Coalition of Stakeholders for Development called on the people of the south who stand in hope for better opportunities to express their determination by participating in the show of support for government efforts by attending the march.