It is a colossal travesty when small people in any society are defenceless and helpless and rendered marginalised. It is even more tragic when this situation is as a result of state sponsored action and policy neglect. So citizens suffer great injustices. This in my view is exactly what is occurring in the small village of Levera in St Patrick’s.
My heart hurts when I listened to the loud pleas for assistance from two senior female citizens on local TV recently begging to be let out of their village to access basic services and live a decent comfortable life.
They happen to reside in the northern most village in Grenada, one of the most picturesque places in the island. A tranquil majestic location with a breath-taking view of the Grenadines that has in the past been frolicked by visiting dignitaries and local who is who’s. In fact, the Governor General once had an official beach house at that location.
For over forty years now the village has been economically deprived and neglected following the fateful policy decision to not replace the bridge that connected Levera to Bathway. The former bridge, which was over the area where the lake’s overflow entered the sea, was never rebuilt on recommendations from the environmentalists.
Underpinning that decision was a total neglect of the future economic fortunes of the adjoining villages and the well-being of its villages and indeed the larger Grenadian population. For thirty years, the adjoining villages were killed economically leading to mass urban drift primarily to St George’s.
If due consideration was given, an alternative rerouting of the road would have been in place. The reality is that almost seventy percent of Grenada’s population have not experienced the exhilarating pleasure of driving through that touristic route and connecting with the other village on the other side. Then many have not been able to enjoy the many family picnic and camping spots characteristic of the area.
A major tourist attraction has been lost due to the lack of knowledge, vision and concern for small people in the area by the authorities. Importantly, the lack of appreciation for public spaces continues to expose the lack of proper planning by successive regimes in the last twenty years. Additionally, Grenada can no longer boast that it is the only Windward island that has a road trekking all around the country and across its centre.
The periodic cry of the villagers for the return of the road have yielded nothing except the wrath of one of the investors and project promoter whose dream is to have an enclave in the north. To hell with the people and other Grenadians in deference to visitors.
Thanks to the NNP, the people have been screwed again. Attempts by former MP Tillman Thomas via consultation with the villagers did not yield a solution. Anthony Boatswain and others did not even listen and understand the importance and significance of returning the road, providing proper access and connecting Grenada much less the plight of the villagers.
So, another investor, number three, is now starting to build and absolutely no arrangement for a connecting road. Hopefully they will finish something. Over 30 million dollars in debt for our taxpayers still to be paid from former NNP’s mismanagement. Meanwhile, the people are tired and have little fight left except to resort to anarchic action when the time is ripe.
Grenadians need to remember that the government lands as well as private adjoining lands were acquired. They are yet to be paid over ten years later. In one case the court has ruled and the government has so far ignored its ruling while the former land owners suffer without any one to fight their cause.
Up till now no compensation for lands taken while they suffer in silence. At the same time, some try to clean up their legacy claiming that they are providing jobs. What jobs? In whose interest?
The continued denial of Grenadians of their right to free public spaces, access to some national areas and a dispensation towards negative environmental actions is indeed quite concerning. More and more Grenadians need to wake up and let their voices be heard. Those offering themselves for public office need to take note.
In the Levera case the investors need to be told that an access road is a must when the government changes as the NNP is not interested. It’s better to address this now to avoid future problems. Those who chose to hide behind selfish agendas will reap the consequences that many of our Caribbean neighbours are currently enjoying -high rates of crime arising from neglect, marginalisation and disenfranchisement.