Prime Minister Allen Chastanet has declared on his official Facebook page that the Soufriere Town Square is not owned by any one individual.
“It is not owned by any Government, it is not owned by any politician or political party, it is not owned by any district representative. It is owned by you the people of Soufriere/Fond St. Jacques,” Chastanet wrote.
His comments come against the backdrop of a controversy over ongoing developments in Soufriere.
Both the ruling United Workers Party (UWP) and the opposition Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) have been taking credit for some of the developments.
On August 2, 2019, on his official Facebook page, Prime Minister Chastanet asserted that a drive down to Soufriere would provide evidence to persons of the new Saint Lucia that his administration promised.
He observed that on Wednesday, the government officially commissioned the latest project in Sulphur City which is the Soufriere Town Square.
Chastanet pointed out that since assuming office in 2016 the constituency of Soufriere/Fond St Jacques has began to experience the promised transformation.
He mentioned the construction of 3 additional pools at the Sulphur Springs Park; the Hummingbird Beach Park Project; the new bus terminal and farmers market at the Old Trafford Complex; Rehabilitation of the Fire Station; ongoing rehabilitation of the Police Station; the rehabilitation of the Fond St Jacques Playing Field and many other constituency development projects all aimed at improving the social, economic and living conditions ‘in such a promising constituency.’
However the opposition SLP released a statement earlier in which its Soufriere/Fond St. Jacques Constituency Group said it joins with the people of Soufriere, in placing on record its profound gratitude to Mr. Harold Dalsan and the SLP, for ‘the vision and foresight’ in conceptualizing, sourcing funding for, and facilitating implementation of two major projects in Soufriere: The Soufriere Square and the Old Trafford.
“The Soufriere Square was conceptualized in 2014 with the central objectives of enhancing the aesthetic beauty of the town and providing an area for community recreation. Following several community consultations, the plans for the project were finalized, and included the Freedom Monument produced by Mr. Ricky George. With a grant of EC$2.5 million from the Republic of China (Taiwan), works commenced on the Square in March 2016 and was due for completion in October 2016. Unfortunately, with the United Workers Party (UWP) assuming office in June 2016, Hon. Herod Stanislaus and Prime Minister Allen Chastanet unceremoniously stopped the project, which was more than seventy (70) percent complete at the time. This was done without any consultation whatsoever and without any rationale for their action; and the result was the creation of an eyesore in the heart of the town of Soufriere for the last 3 years,” the SLP statement asserted.
It said with general elections fast approaching and their popularity plummeting, the UWP Government has hastily completed the very same project, hoping to receive credit and commendation for it.
“However, the people of Soufriere are adamant in holding Herod Stanislaus and Allen Chastanet “criminally liable” for delaying the completion of the Soufriere Square by three years. The people believe that “Justice delayed is justice denied” and they are determined to hold Herod Stanislaus and Allen Chastanet accountable in the ballot boxes at the next General elections,” according to the SLP statement.
It observed that disturbingly, the Old Trafford project suffered the same vindictive stoppage fate as the Square. The project was also conceived in 2014 and with public consultation, a proposal under the Basic Needs Trust Fund Eight (BNTF 8) was submitted to the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) for consideration and approval. After much discussion and consultation, including a visit to the CDB Headquarters, by the then Chairman and Executive Director of the Saint Lucia Social Development Fund (SSDF), the EC$1.1 million grant was finally approved in 2015, under the broad profile of Drainage and Access, for the construction of the project.
“The Old Trafford project was set in motion during the second quarter of 2016, but was similarly stopped by Hon. Herod Stanislaus and Prime Minister Allen Chastanet, without public consultation and for no valid reason. Again, with general election fast approaching they have hastily completed the project, hoping that it would compensate for their delinquency and their contempt and disrespect for the people of Soufriere/Fond St. Jacques” the SLP stated.