The Vieux Fort Concerned Citizens Coalition for Change (VFCCCC), has launched an online petition calling for a halt to the US $ 2.6 billion Desert Star Holdings Limited (DSH) project planned for the South of the Island, until the agreement for the initiative can be re-negotiated.
The petition, which the VFCCCC expects to gather thousands of signatures, is to be presented shortly to Prime Minister, Allen Chastanet and the developer.
The group held what organizers described as a well-attended meeting at the Vieux Fort primary school Wednesday night, at which the DSH project was discussed with Vieux Fort residents and other interested individuals.
VFCCCC founding member, Julius James told the Times that for the first time in many years the partitions were removed to fully open the school auditorium.
“There were people outside on both sides of the auditorium listening and taking in the information,” he stated.
The VFCCCC official said the group is in possession of two agreements relating to the DSH project – the framework and supplementary agreements
“Having read the two agreements we were left very disturbed by the terms and conditions of the two agreements,” James explained.
He said essentially the agreements seek to hand over almost all of the productive lands in Vieux Fort – some nine hundred acres.
James asserted that all the land will be handed over to one developer.
According to the VFCCCC official, everything in the agreements are in favour of the master developer.
“From our understanding, Saint Lucia would have to bear all the costs, all the risks, all the obligations of that project that has been signed, as far as we understand, by the Prime Minister,” James stated.
He said his organization believes that the agreement is not beneficial to Vieux Fort and Saint Lucia and would completely stop any further development of the Vieux Fort.
James said it would stop other investors from entering Vieux Fort.
“We just thought that this agreement was outrageous, ridiculous and we could not go along with it,” he told the Times.
According to James, that was the general sentiment of last evening’s meeting which was addressed by, among other persons, former Castries Central MP, Richard Frederick, Doctor Anderson Reynolds and Monty Maxwell – a representative of the VFCCCC.
He said the meeting made proposals on how concerned residents of Vieux Fort can get Prime Minister, Allen Chastanet. to listen to them.
“We are first seeking some kind of audience, some kind of dialogue with the Prime Minister on that project,” James explained.
He noted that a letter was written about two weeks ago to ruling party MPs, including Chastanet.
But he said there had not even been an acknowledgement.
He said there must be some ‘rethinking’ of the DSH agreement.
“We will have to use all possible means available to us and this is now under discussion,” James said.
He made it clear that his group is not opposed to foreign direct investment.
But he said the VFCCCC wants a better deal for Vieux Fort and Saint Lucia.
“We are prepared to sit down and renegotiate this thing with the government,” the VFCCCC official said.
He asserted that the response to the DSH development has to be a national one because although the lands earmarked for development are situated in Vieux Fort, they belong to Saint Lucia which has scarce land resources.
“That is the only area in Saint Lucia where the government, whichever it is, owns sizable amounts of readily accessible lands for investment and other purposes,” James told the Times.