GIS – An early Friday morning fire in the picturesque tourist town of Soufriere on Saint Lucia’s west coast has focused attention on the necessity for adequate insurance in times of peril.
Minister for Commerce, Business Development, Investment and Consumer Affairs, Hon. Emma Hippolyte, said the incident speaks volumes about the vulnerability of small businesses in developing countries.
“It’s an issue that we need to discuss openly and to see how best we can cause small businesses to understand and know what risks they are getting into, and how we as a people can mitigate some of these risks. It is very important.”
The fire, which destroyed several homes and businesses, brought back memories of the Soufriere fire of 1955 which destroyed nearly three fifths of the town, rendering some 2400 people homeless.
The cause of Friday’s fire has not yet been determined, but valiant efforts on the part of fire-fighters from Soufriere and Vieux Fort helped confine the conflagration to the corner of Bridge, Church and Sir Arthur Lewis Streets.
As a former permanent resident of Soufriere, Minister Hippolyte reminisced on how the town was during her residency and the current changes which helped contain the fire.
“The tall building there, that’s where my father’s shop was, that’s where I sold all my life. I could remember when that building was erected, most of us were upset that it was not within the same architecture of the town. But today, most persons we spoke with say, that’s the building that saved the town.”
The Commerce Minister reiterated the need for adequate insurance coverage to ensure business continuity following a disaster and thanked the Saint Lucia Fire Service and the people of Soufriere for their part in containing and extinguishing the fire.