Opening Monday’s press conference to present the next set of Labour’s pledges, the new endorsed SLP candidate for Dennery South, Jerome Gedeon, announced that the next Labour Government will begin planning for a new dam on the Troumassee River as a priority. This is a major infrastructure project that will assure the supply of clean drinking water to the south of this country, from Micoud on the east coast to Laborie in the south, for decades to come.
When Labour took office in 2011, it found a water sector in desperate need of attention and a Water and Sewerage Company, WASCO that was on the brink of bankruptcy. Every month, LUCELEC was threatening to disconnect WASCO because it was unable to pay its electricity bills. The national water systems, which had been badly damaged by Hurricane Tomas, had received absolutely no attention from the UWP administration. The John Compton Dam was heavily silted and no plans had been made by the previous government to rectify this situation. All over Saint Lucia, residents were complaining about the inadequacy of their water supply. In the Dennery Valley and Vieux Fort, the problem had become endemic. It was clear that action needed to be taken.
Our Government immediately set out to address the many problems in the water sector. Water is life, and we knew that if we could not assure the people of Saint Lucia a reliable and safe water supply, we were compromising on the quality of life they enjoyed.
Outlining the emergency measures undertaken by this Government to rectify the ailing water sector, Jerome said:
“This Government fixed WASCO. It saved it from bankruptcy. As an immediate priority in office, the Labour Government cleared most of WASCO’s debt and put it on a firm financial footing, allowing it to not only meet its monthly electricity bills but also to start paying down on its large arrears to LUCELEC. After this, this government then undertook a comprehensive study for desilting the Dam. With the help of the Caribbean Development Bank it was able to secure the funds for this crucial desilting, and an announcement will soon be made regarding the contract for this massive and very important project. These actions were vital to securing water security for our citizens.”
Addressing water supply problems in this country, in Dennery village, Babonneau, Cas en Bas and Vieux Fort, as well as establishing for the first time in many years a 24-hour supply of water to residents in the city of Castries, has been one of the proudest achievements of this Government. In particular, Jerome, who is a resident of Dennery South, highlighted that “With the help of the Mexican Government and the Caribbean Development Bank, this Government has secured $24 million for the redevelopment of the water supply and distribution system for the Dennery valley, and over $65 million for a new water supply and distribution system for Vieux Fort.”
These projects will be transformative for the residents of both areas. However, in the longer term, more will need to be done. The new Vieux Fort water supply and distribution system will meet the needs of Vieux Fort and environs until 2033, but beyond that, a more permanent solution will be required.
Therefore, in our next term of office, this Labour Government will commence preliminary studies on the construction of a new reservoir and a dam on the Troumassee River, which will ensure that Vieux Fort and the southern villages and communities, from Micoud to Laborie, will have a sufficient supply of clean and safe drinking water for decades to come.
For us in the Saint Lucia Labour Party there is no problem that is too big to fix. Our work in the water sector is another example of our commitment to improving the quality of life of all Saint Lucians. We are the party that plans for the future of our country.