Good day, citizens and residents. This week's Cabinet meeting was held on Wednesday April 11, 2012.
ROAD IMPROVEMENT PROJECT
Cabinet welcomed a contingent led by Dr. the Hon. Earl Asim Martin, Minister of Public Works, Utilities, Local Transport and Housing, who gave a comprehensive presentation of the ministry's plan to improve the public roads in parts of Basseterre, Frigate Bay and the South-East Peninsula. The contingent consisted of Director of Public Works, Mr. Calvin Pemberton, two engineers from the Public Works Department, and representatives and engineers from an engineering firm, ADeB Consulting.
Dr. Martin seized the opportunity to update Cabinet Members on the physical condition of the roads in St. Kitts and to discuss the ongoing activities within his ministry to improve and maintain public roads, generally.
More particularly, the presentation to the Cabinet highlighted four components of the road improvement programme as follows:
1. Resurfacing of the road from the Bay Road in the vicinity of Port Zante, along Sandown, along the Frigate Road to the third round-about at Frigate Bay
2. Resurfacing of the road from the third round-about at Frigate Bay, along the South-East Peninsula to the Sea Bridge at Majors Bay, and to Cockleshell Beach
3. The Construction of a major round-about at the intersection of the Kim Collins Highway, the Frigate Bay road and the Bird Rock road.
4. The construction of a 150 metre drive-through tunnel at Timothy Hill to address the issue of the falling of rocks from the hillside on that part of the road particularly as a result of erosion due to heavy rainfall over time.
The engineers agreed that there was significant deterioration on these segments of our road network, and that given the increasing traffic on them over the years, it was critical from an economic as well as safety standpoint to make major improvements to the identified road segments. It was revealed that there is need for only surface work along specific points of the road but that work would have to be done to the sub-stratum in other areas given the damage done to it due to the seepage of rain water over the years.
In respect of the road works to be done at Timothy Hill, two options were recommended and examined. One such option advocated the benching (i.e the excavation of the hill in a bench-like fashion) to reduce the risk of the falling of rock, but this was found to be too costly when weighed against the alternative. The option to create a covered tunnel was found to be acceptable. In addition to the tunnel, barriers are to be built on the hillsides where locals and visitors gather to enjoy the surrounding views.
Cabinet was advised that the project could be executed in its entirety over a 20 month period depending on the implementation strategy adopted.
Members were careful to stress the increasing use of the roads by our nationals and residents for walking and jogging for the purpose of physical exercise, and that consideration must be given to the accommodation of these pedestrians through the creation of sidewalks and crossings where feasible. The importance of the maintenance and enhancements of the aesthetics of the surroundings was also discussed and agreed upon.
Finally, Cabinet was strongly of the view that the project must provide significant opportunities for our local truckers, heavy equipment operators, skilled tradesmen and women, unskilled workers and local service providers to be employed, to do business, and to benefit from the project.
UPDATE ON THE BEACON HEIGHTS PROJECT
Minister responsible for Social Security, Deputy Prime Minister the Hon. Sam Terrence Condor, updated the Cabinet of Ministers on the progress with the Beacon Heights project. Minister Condor was pleased that things were progressing smoothly at Beacon Heights and that the recent issues surrounding the project had now subsided. In particular, he indicated that a number of matters which had been raised by the Chamber of Industry and Commerce (CIC) were satisfactorily addressed and responded to by him as Minister responsible, and that there was no further major issue reported by stakeholders.
Minister Condor further reported that five (5) properties at Beacon Heights had been purchased and that there was now increased interest in the project. As matters were progressing smoothly, the Hon. Minister foresaw the completion of the landscaping component by May of this year and the complete build-out of the project over the next 7 to 10 years. It was revealed that the Beacon Heights project was going to benefit from a major promotion exercise to be hosted in Canada around the time of Whit week in this coming May and that further interest is likely to be generated therefrom.
Significantly, Minister Condor informed the Cabinet that a policy decision was taken that going forward the Beacon Heights project would be funded by the receipts from sales and by clients' deposits, as this was the most appropriate strategy at this time taking all relevant matters into consideration.
OPERATIONALISATION OF THE OECS PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY
The Revised Treaty of Basseterre which came into effect in January 2011 makes provision for the establishment of the five (5) main institutions of the OECS Economic Union. One such institution is the OECS Parliamentary Assembly. As per the Treaty, this body is to be comprised of 5 elected members from the Parliament of each full OECS member state, 3 such members originating from the government side, including the Head of Government, and 2 such members originating from the opposition, including the Leader of the Opposition.
The Revised Treaty also makes provision for the election of a speaker who is to satisfy qualifications similar to those for a speaker of our own national assembly.
Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas updated members of the Cabinet on the plans for the operationalisation of the OECS Parliamentary Assembly and reviewed the role of the Assembly. The Prime made reference to Article 10.13 of the Treaty which outlines the role of the Assembly as follows:
1. to report to the OECS Authority on any proposal to enact an Act of the OECS under the Treaty
2. to report to the OECS Authority on any other matter referred to the Council of Ministers of the OECS in the case of any proposal to make regulations which have been referred to the OECS Assembly in accordance with the treaty.
The Rt. Hon. Prime Minister reported that the inaugural meeting of the OECS Parliamentary Assembly had been planned for June 2012. Accordingly, he requested of the cabinet to consider the following:
1. the identification of nominees from the government who will serve in the OECS Parliamentary Assembly
2. a joint meeting to update Members of the Opposition on matters to do with the OECS Parliamentary Assembly and the role of the Opposition in that regard
This has been the post-cabinet briefing for Wednesday April 11, 2012. Thank you.