“Let’s stop talking and show some action”, “It’s time for a revolution”, “Chastanet is instigating violence by what he is doing,” and “DSH must go”, were some of the anguish cries by attendees at a townhall meeting in Vieux-Fort, which was organised by Pride St. Lucia and the Vieux-Fort Concerned Citizens Coalition for Change (VFCCCC).
The objective of the meeting, which was held at the National Skills Development Centre (NSDC) in Vieux-Fort on Wednesday, February 21, 2018 was to explain the negative impact of the Desert Star Holding (DSH) project to residents of the south, and by extension the entire island.
The speakers were knowledgeable professionals from various industries.
The meeting was charged with emotion as participants expressed their concerns with venom in their voices.
In his presentation, in which he did not mince words, former government minister and talk show host, Richard Frederick declared “Revolution must come…” which triggered a thunderous applause from the already fired-up participants. He said he is wondering whether Prime Minister Allen Chastanet is targeting the south.
“I am asking myself whether he is revenging Vieux-Fort for some reason or the other…” Frederick said.
He lamented that after spending close to a million dollars on a technical audit on the St. Jude Hospital, Chastanet now wants to do a financial audit on it.
Commenting on the vexing issue of the planned relocation of the meat processing plant in Vieux-Fort, Frederick said: “I am betting my bottom dollar that if and when it is demolished, relocation will not be on the same site…”.
Frederick said Chastanet is doing things in a way to please Theo Ah Khing of DSH.
He had the audience in awe when he said: “I will tell you something which I learnt only today (Wednesday)… the Hon. prime minister intends to hand over both the Owen King Hospital and the St. Jude Hospital to the operators of the hospital in the Cayman Islands.”
This he lamented will place local doctors on the breadline because the operators of the Cayman Islands Hospital have their own conglomerate of doctors.
As it relates to the sale of 259 St. Lucian passports, he said the current administration has not done what the law dictates.
“The law dictates that those names be published and tabled in Parliament. That has not been done…,’ Frederick said.
Keith Mondesir, a former Minister of Health in the current administration, said that he is not against the development of the DSH project, but is against the management of it.
He called on the government to listen to the experts before taking any decision on the project, which earned him a nod of approval from the gathering, which comprised of a large cross-section of the southern community. But moments later he was given a nod of disapproval when he said: “What I would advise the government if I was in Cabinet… I would let this gentleman take the land in stages.”
“No stages, no stages…” was the response from the animated audience.
Mondesir said the developer has not given the government any commitment in writing that he would provide the money to relocate the meat processing plant, adding that the government needs to have a solid commitment from him.
”The meat processing plant as I speak is ready to go as of tomorrow…” Mondesir said.
According to him, the government has not provided any scientific evidence to prove that the meat processing plant needs to be relocated.
“I have spoken to scientists and biologists… and they feel that we don’t have to remove the abattoir,” Mondesir said.
Among the other speakers were Monty Maxwell, who spoke on the effects the project has on the mangrove, Marc St. Rose (fisheries), Patrick John (agriculture) Austina Fanus (patrimony) Marie Felix (environment) and Mark Hennecart (DSH design).