New infrastructure is needed

One of the most common problems one finds in a democracy is Politician’s inability to plan long-term and this in itself cost countries dearly.

The fact is that money is usually wasted on short-term fix as government plans are usually based on a four or five-year cycle with re-election in mind.

Grenada is no different in this regard. When the current government came to power over 4 years ago the country’s finances were in a mess (the Treasury was empty).

In the preceding months, the administration was either raiding the National Insurance funds or borrowing from local banks to pay salaries. The country was also experiencing negative growth. These were really difficult times for our people and our country.

The incoming government’s plan was a bold one: Renegotiate debt loans with our creditors and call in the IMF which meant the introduction of a host of austerity measures; some of which are still in place to continue the recovery.

I strongly believe this government will continue in office for at least two more terms. I base my opinion on my experience of being in the country, speaking to people, gauging their views of the opposition parties and the confidence and faith they are expressing in the present government.

There is also a strong sense of optimism that the governing party will hold all their parliamentary seats in the forthcoming elections.

However, what can play in the opposition’s favour is complacency by the ruling party and its supporters.
Let there be no doubt – Grenada has a strong government and I believe the government should start thinking long-term. Part of government’s long-term strategic planning should be to put new infrastructure plans in place to encourage long-term economic growth and wealth generation.

We should be thinking about plans to take this country into the 2030s and 2040s – plans that would help provide jobs in our rural and most deprived areas.

Much, much more needs to be done in the short-term as well as long-term to create the environment that would bring investors into areas of our country where unemployment is at its highest levels especially among the youth and people of working age.

The transport facilities between the mainland and Carriacou needs upgrading – the runway at Lauriston Airport needs improving and larger capacity planes need to be put into service.

I have recently heard of a situation where 18 people were booked to travel but a 10-seater plane was made available.

The ferry service from St George’s is a joke to say the least – it never leaves on time. If this is a privately-run service as I suspect it is, the government needs to regulate it or take it over all together.

The quality of service in terms of on-board conditions and facilities need upgrading, travelling times should not exceed an hour so we need faster and more efficient crafts and schedule times should be adhered to.
Provision for a similar service between Sauteurs and Hillsborough should also be considered.

On mainland Grenada, the government should be thinking seriously about the construction of at least one new dual carriageway north-south road and two dual carriageway east-west roads to open up the country to people of all age and economic background including those working in all types of industry and businesses.
The road programme is necessary to support existing businesses and encourage new ones in the middle as well as the north of the country.

Some businesses in our rural areas are struggling unnecessary as a result of our outdated road network that takes the form of sidewinder snakes.

Prospective patrons especially tourists are unlikely to venture onto these roads and are therefore missing out on some of the good things Grenada has to offer outside of St George Parish.

We need to put that right. Please bring on the St George’s Renaissance Project – why is the country kept waiting?

Did I hear someone saying “where is the money going to come from?” Apart from the St George’s Renaissance Project these are long-term plans for current and future governments to consider and to reflect on from time to time when considering policy change in support of sustainable economic growth and prosperity.

The services to Carriacou needs to be more medium-term rather than long-term however; roads are a different matter altogether, the routes have to be planned, land ownership has to be established and compensation has to be agreed and paid accordingly,

There is soil testing to be carried out in some areas, wildlife habitat to be looked into and arrangements made for replacement if necessary.

In some cases, a re-routing of the road layout may be deemed necessary. Grenada is mountainous and hilly so decisions have to be made for perhaps tunnelling, bridge location has to be established. This is long term not a quick fix.

A major dual north-south carriageway route will be extremely costly but this is a major investment into the long-term future of our country and can be built in stages over many years.

As funds are made available, the first section could be constructed from St George’s to the Parish of St David; with section 2 and 3 taking the route through St Andrew’s and the final section through to the outskirts of Sauteurs.

The east-west routes can be financed and constructed in similar stages once the routes are established and all the necessary conditions are met.

Perhaps one of the ways of bringing new high-tech businesses to Grenada could be through St George’s University.

Universities throughout the world carry out research and development work on behalf of clients some small as well as multi-nationals and large corporations that eventually set up businesses close by.

This is the kind of opportunities the government should be looking into going forward.

Winston Strachan

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