By Caribbean News Global contributor
CASTRIES, St Lucia — The government of Saint Lucia public sector investment referenced in the budget address for the financial year 2020/2021, delivered Tuesday, June 23, prime minister Allen Castanet said road infrastructure forms part of “the third economic priority sector of our medium development strategy.” He added, “infrastructure is the foundation of economic growth and output for every country.”
“In the priority area of improving road connectivity, we shall embark on an ambitious road infrastructural development programme, funding for which has been secured. The Millennium Highway and West Coast Road Project are financed largely from the UK Caribbean Infrastructural Fund (CIF) under which some US$43.2 million has been allocated to Saint Lucia. More specifically, these road projects are estimated at EC$32.2 million for the Millennium highway and EC$66.2 million for the West Coast road.”
A press release Friday, June 26, from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) reads:
“The board of directors of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) approved funding for the rehabilitation and upgrading of 40 kilometres of the Millennium Highway and West Coast Road. The two corridors, constituting a third of Saint Lucia’s 137-kilometre primary road network, provide the main link between the capital city of Castries and the town of Soufriere in the west.
“This road project will result in increased economic activity and more resilient infrastructure. We envision the rehabilitation and upgrading of the two roads bringing benefits to the most disadvantaged in Saint Lucia through improved mobility, accessibility, and climate resilience,” said CDB vice-president (Operations) Monica La Bennett.
The US$52-million project is being funded by a grant of almost £28-million (US$35-million) from the government of the United Kingdom through the CDB-administered United Kingdom Caribbean Infrastructure Fund, a loan of approximately US$8-million from CDB, and contribution of US$9 million from the Government of Saint Lucia.
“Our support to the Millennium Highway and West Coast Road project is a very tangible demonstration of the UK’s commitment to Saint Lucia – a key Commonwealth partner for Global Britain. This project will be transformative – significantly contributing to economic development and improving access to Saint Lucia’s agriculture and tourism sectors,” said British High Commissioner to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Janet Douglas.
The CDB added: “While the project will shorten the overall travel time on the two roads, it will boost road safety to vastly lower the number of accidents and fatalities. The narrow bridge at Anse La Raye Village will be reconstructed to meet international standards and to allow traffic in both directions. Separating vehicular and pedestrian traffic will also make the bridge safer.
“The upgrading of the roads requires the acquisition of 3.5 acres of land. Eleven households located on such land and 15 roadside vendors in Roseau Valley, situated dangerously close to the roadside, will be relocated or compensated. The vendors, most of them women selling souvenirs to tourists, will also be offered training in business development and life skills. In anticipation of the planned relocation of the cargo port from Castries to Cul de Sac, the road will be upgraded to handle the expected increase in traffic to the new port.”
A sitting of parliament on Tuesday, June 02, 2020, authorized the minister of finance to borrow an amount not exceeding the equivalent of US$7,945,000.00 from the Caribbean Development Bank’s Ordinary Capital Resources (OCR) to finance the Millennium Highway and West Cost Reconstruction Project.
Extracts from the 2020/2021 estimates of expenditure and revenue SLU 2020 21 expenditure pgs 611-617 underlined:
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The prime minister’s 2020/2021 budget address stated, “almost immediately, the benefits from the many infrastructure projects will ensure that some persons who have become unemployed due to COVID-19, will once more return to gainful employment and therefore be able to provide for their families.”