|Commentary: Develop Georgetown and decentralize Kingstown|
|Published on December 11, 2012||
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By D. Markie Spring
For decades Georgetown, best known as ‘Sugar City’, has been abandoned by the government, business entrepreneurs and its residents!
From the closing of the banana, arrowroot and sugar industries, and the Wind Crops, to the abandonment of private homes and businesses; today, almost all Georgetown residents describe the city as a once vibrant and commercial centre with merchantable qualities and cooperatives for social and economic development to a ‘ghost town’ and for some reason we have accepted this pseudonym and setback.
The author of a number of published works, D. Markie Spring was born in St Vincent and the Grenadines and now resides in Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos Islands. He has an MBA from the University of Leicester, England, and a BA from Saint Mary's University, Canada
Furthermore, some visitors has described the remains of this nomadic city as the ‘oldest’ settlement in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG); making references to the old dilapidated buildings, especially those buildings located on the main road, still standing in desperate need of renovating makeovers.
Interestingly, the present government, in its attempt to revive the once bustling city, designed and constructed a futuristic police station, secondary school and hospital, which stood out amongst the remaining buildings, but they are not enough to restart the city’s heartbeat after its economic cardiac arrest and deadlock.
Back then, ‘Sugar City’ had sizeable and well-established supermarkets, several community and entertainment centres, general stores, a bank, post offices, restaurants, a gas station, sugar and arrowroot factories, a meat and food market, Cable and Wireless, a library, and even fishing boats and an airfield; today, only the remnants of some of those economic driven enterprises can be seen; hence, the one hour journey to Kingstown to obtain goods and services is inevitable.
As a native of Georgetown, I’d like to see more businesses introduced; an extension of Kingstown that would restart the abandoned economic machineries of the second city. In this capacity, I’d like to see the Syrian business community, CK Greaves, Laynes, Coreas and Trading, Ace Hardware, Digicel, LIME, FedEx and other major businesses in Kingstown and the government amalgamate to ensure an extension of their city business is situated in Georgetown. It is insane for one, especially those from Georgetown and surrounding areas and residents above the dry river, to continuously journey to Kingstown to purchase pharmaceuticals, groceries, building materials, auto parts and other supplies, and telecommunications and access customer service. Notwithstanding other services such as immigration, licensing, treasury and other government offices and departments. Imagine a Fancy or Owia resident wanting ice cream, a tire or submitting a passport application!
Hitherto, residents who have eloped Georgetown for the same reason of daunting economic times need to sell their abandoned properties or renovate those private houses that are harboring grasses, animals and other living parasites.
To substantiate my claims, Georgetown is ideal for business, considering its location, half way between Fancy and Kingstown on the Windward side and its demographics; coupled with the huge population of its surrounding areas from as far as Biabou in the south, to the villages north above the dry river: Orange Hill, Overland, Magum, London, Sandy Bay, old and new Owia and Fancy.
Additionally, if an entrepreneur would invest in cable cars that link trade and commuters from Windward to Leeward, businesses in Georgetown could secure higher growth, revenues and incomes and of course employment will grow. Remember how our forefathers constantly walked the La Soufriere Mountain to trade goods and services and visited friends and families on the other side of the island; today, this tradition remains; however, we are restricted by lack of infrastructure, capacity and facilities.
Furthermore, the Atlantic Ocean is practically not harvested; hence, investors should dredge an area to accommodate fishing vessels for easy maneuverability in entering and exiting the rippling ocean currents.
Until then, Georgetown remains on its deathbed, waiting for foreign investor blood donors, and local governmental and entrepreneurial surgeons.
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MARKIE, as usual a remarkable piece. I can tell you that there was a consortium of European companies that were looking at Georgetown for a Caribbean assembly base for farm instruments and appliances.
Unfortunately they were advised and accepted the advice that to invest in SVG and at Georgetown in particular was not recommended at that  time because of the political situation.
I am sure they would of been forced to take ULP party members and exclude NDP supporters.
At least recently the Minister of Agriculture changed for the better.
I am not sure that deal can be revived, but when the time is ripe I will talk to them. It will put several hundred Georgetown people to work, and perhaps seed the town with a revival of health, wealth and happiness.
Markie how are you, I will like you to know that this neglect is not unique to G-town, if you travel to any of the towns, Layou, Chateaubelair, or Calliaquia and you will notice none of the towns have seen any infrastructural, economic, enterprise, employment or other growth. But over the years these activities have dwindled drastically. Unfortunately Georgetown has suffered the most from the rural collapse.
That is the mentality of Vincentian, we all want to congregate in one spot, we have this strange belief that some how we may miss something if we are not gathered in that central area; in this case Kingstown, we also feel we are less than if we are not a part of. This is the high of insecurity.
Markie we must also remember that more than any of the other towns in St. Vincent and the Grenadines G-town had all of the business enterprises that made that town sell sufficient, the people of Georgetown and Surrounding communities neglect the local enterprise in the area and journey to Kingstown causing the family own businesses to go out of business, closing their doors for a lack of sales and a lack of profit. When the people in the rural communities fail to support their neighboring community businesses they reduce the amount of monies that circulate in the community, the economic growth and employment within those area.
The questions you must ask and answer are,
QUESTION: Has the people of Georgetown experienced the requiered development where they understand the economic disaster that local disloyalty cost.
Finally, my friend you call for the Syrian community and other enterprise to come to G-town to invest in that Village, that in it self is a big mistake, first you don't want the people of G-town to become servants to the exploitive business men and women as is happening in the City. Paying their workers small wages, provide poor working conditions, with no benefits while the greedy business people walk away with the hefty bounty the sweat of the hard working people.
The people of Georgetown and the other villeges have been surviving for the pass twenty years with this condition, I am saying that you cannot be so desperate to fix a problem with the quick fix that you lead the people down the narrow road of corperate exploitation. Lets take our time and follow the plan I am about to lay out below.
Markie Spring, it is time to put you training to work, this is the perfect opportunity for you to organize the people of the area, gather them in group of like minds and go in search if grants, and small low interest loans and let the people of the area start small business corps. Now they are responsible for running & patronizing their own businesses. They stand and suffer the lost and failure of the business if they fail to support their businesses and they will share in any profit that is realized.
It is not going to be easy but it is doerable and work able. If you take the quick fix you will be doing the people a great injustice.
Markie I can now see that Yahweh has caused you to be trained, he facilitated your return to SVG For such a time as now, but more so he have put a sore displeasure in you heart. Now it is time to trust in Our Father Yahweh ( Yah) for the vision and direction you need to get started.
If my memory served me right when we were in police training you were a believer, you were committed to the Creator. YAHWEY. It is time to recommit to him because it is only the almighty's gift that will see you through this new process.
Think outside the box. We have to discuss this more.
Markie are the people in Georgetown ready to put their monies where their lives exist and their back to the wheel to make it happen for them. If they are then you should mobilize them and become an agent of and for change.
D. Markie Spring:
The reason they should develop GTown is the distance north above the dry river is from Kingstown. Its definetly too far to commute on a daily basis to get things done.
It cost too much and it a big inconvenience. Peter any details why the company decided not to invest.... was it political? not feasible? etc
Of course, I fully intended to respond a bit later to MARKIE's article, but ALLAN's provocative commentary has helped evoke an earlier attention.
A couple notes on aspects of your analyis, Mr. Palmer.
The attraction of the bright lights of the steel, asphalt, and concrete jungle cities is a human, and hence also a CARIBBEAN-wide and VINCENTIAN social affliction.
Again, the VISION-LESS political powers that be tend to CONCENTRATE MOST OR ALL THE VITAL AND MORE IMPORTANT GOVERNMENTAL SERVICES AND GOODIES in the city and urban areas, the mega-burg of CALLIAQUA TO CAMPDEN PARK. People flock to these areas to find the few reasonable jobs still available. They want their children to have the greater advantage and benefit of the more well-resourced Kingstown schools --- regardless to what the corrupt pols say. The scheming politicians LIKE TO HAVE IT SO, short-sightedy, when most of "the people" congregate in just this ONE PLACE or general area. They foolishly think that this is somewhat opportunisticaly 'better' for their narrow political ambitions. And, SVG suffers.
The upper echelons of our society were pushing this policy of DECENTRALISATION ever since the change-over from the remnant British colonial authorities in the 1960s.
Markie, I believe Peter advised the prospective investors against the proposed project, as he felt that COMMUNISTIC RALPHIE would only cynically seek to completely COMMUNIZE IT and tell the good people of the NORTH-EAST, Charlotte Parish, and the Greater Georgetown area, THAT it was really dotish power-mad Castro who established it. Caramba. Pobre G-Town --- racist slave state Cuban communism ah destroy we.
Hope to say more, soon enough. Deo volente.
MARKIE, they were looking to operate an assembly plant in Venezuela. They decided against that because of Chavez's treatment of foreign companies. They looked at Trinidad but were frightened off by tales of kidnapping and armed robbery [although that has almost stopped under the current right wing administration, the blight remains]
I brought them to Georgetown, they loved the people and location. They were put off because it was some short time before the last election. They told me they felt the people like the Venezuelans were to much under the control of the current ultra left wing political leader.
They waited to see the outcome of the election, then decided that under the Marxist administration they would be unwilling to invest and locate at this time.
I agreed with them because my advice may be important to them in the future, for here or elsewhere. I had to be truthful.
The problem as I see it is that Gonsalves may well of blighted SVG for many years after he and his party departs, investors will worry about a political turn around in the future and a return back to a Marxist administration.
You will notice that no foreign investors have come to SVG during the last twelve years. No new industry has resulted in no new jobs. This Gonsalves led regime has resulted in wrecking the commercial viability of the state, including the total destruction of agriculture. Even the sale of Crown Lands in Bequia to fund the airport has been a big flop, foreigners have given it a wide berth, the prime lots of land being sold to Vincentians close to the government, even to those employed in the state company selling the land.
Chief of Police Keith Miller, read the article below and you may better understand what your failings to duty are perceived as.
You may better understand why some time in the near future you may be held to task.
“Cayman Islands premier arrested”
D. Markie Spring:
Steve, it bothers me to call my folks only to hear that they are in Arnos 7 pm at night shopping at CK Greaves. I also have families in north of the dry river that constantly in a bus 8 and 9 O'clock at night just getting out of town/ Arnos Vale. The worst is when the bus gets to Gtown it another worry whether they will catch a bus to Sandy Bay. It hurts.
Peter, I hearbreaking man, Georgetown has no much potential to grow. It has space, population and the know - how. For me I had to abandoned Gtown for a moment whilst livingin SVG, as it was too far to commute - both distance and cost for the same reasons Steve mentioned.
I hope things can get back on track for the people out there, in the near future. It on us to relay this information to investors
As a young boy growing up and observing our Vincentian and Caribbean situation, I increasingly realized that the problem of development and poverty vs. prosperity distilled down to the question of GOVERNMENT AND LEADERSHIP - - - AH WHO WE GO PUT?
The older folk, whom Markie knows I especially fraternized with, particularly around the perennial domino tables, joined the other adults, and the youth, in putting their proverbial fingers, too, on that very crux of the enigma.
WHEN WE LOOKED AT HAITI, CUBA, AND, then, GUYANA, we could see with daylight CLARITY that the LEADERSHIP, ADMINISTRATION, AND GOVERNMENT OF EACH OF THOSE ECONOMICALLY BACKWARD COUNTRIES were the REAL CULPRITS.
ST.VINCENT, too, had begun to deteriorate for some time, until that decline was arrested at least for awhile. DID YOU NOTICE when the so-called regional "WINDS OF CHANGE", supposedly SOCIALISTICALLY, were being bandied about for the other Windward Islands, for a start, following on the then highly vaunted COMMUNIST 'REVO' in GRENADA ?
SURPRISINGLY, for the marxist-leninist bandwagon riders, ST.VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES moved forward, economically, in the most dramatic form - - - while the increasingly touted 'winds of change' other windwards islands declined drastically.
It was as CLEAR as DAYLIGHT.
SOCIALIST MEASURES, POLICIES, AND LEADERSHIP, failed miserably in the WINDWARD ISLANDS, as they usually do every where else around this globe.
The communistic 'radicals' or self-styled marxist-leninists mercilessly criticized the incumbent 'CAPITALIST' governmental administrations, BUT, once they began to gain political or administrative power themselves, THE ROTTEN LYING COMMUNISTS utterly knew absolutely NOTHING about government or administration.
They could readily criticise these middle of the road traditional type SVG or West Indian Governments, BUT THEY DID NOT KNOW HOW TO SOLVE, EVEN TENTATIVELY, THE SERIOUS PROBLEMS of government, economic development, agricultural successes, health, happiness and general human wellbeing. The marxists had lied to us all those years.
That partially accounts for the SVG people choosing ROBERT MILTON CATO's SVG LABOUR PARTY and, later, J.F. MITCHELL's NEW DEMOCRATIC PARTY over those many years - - - in contra-distinction to FAILED, ATHEISTIC, 'scientific' socialism.
Ralph Gonsalves RAN FROM the local COMMUNIST PARTY, sometimes termed 'youlimo' --- loudly, publicly BRANDING THEM aa LENINIST, and EXTREME LENINISTS - - - in his desperate efforts to go into communist 'deep cover'.
Then Communistic ralphie, surprise of surpriese (?), SHAMELESSLY ABANDONED the Youlimo-front "MNU" in his final communistic push to infiltrate and subvert STANLEY 'STALKY' JOHN's SVGLP, even with the deluded, pecuniary, collaborattion of Vincent Beache his stained "coconut bat".
SHOULD IT be surprising to BEHOLD the sad economic state of affairs in today's SVG?
IS IT any wonder to HEHOLD ralphie's hapless blundering WITHOUT A CLUE, while our formerly blessed State of SVG quickly descends into TOTAL COMMUNISTIC IMPOVERISHMENT?
The rural areas, such as Georgetown, Barrouallie, Chato, Biabou, would tend to be practical forecasters of the complete DISASTER that hurtles meteorically toward the whole State. There is NOTHING in communist ideology that enlighten us on developing a country. Beyond the enticing false communist propaganda, the so-called scientific socialist ideology is totally lacking in any solution to the dire matter of poverty.
Look at all the countries that these LENINISTS overthrow. Did they EVER solve the problem of poverty? You want to compare the human conditions or wage levels of SVG workers with the communist slaves in castroite cuba?
Walter Rodney ran from the initial mess his ideology was causing in Tanzania. The highly regarded Julius Nyerre, himself, had to admit his socialist policies failure and give power to a less ideological actor, in an abject effort to salvage some level of economic sanity in Tanzania. You don't hear that noisy ranting from the West Indian left anymore, about the great benefits of the mis-nomer 'african socialism'. Failure doesn't have any god-fathers, at all.
The crooked politicians just have to either provide markets for our farmers crops and producers products, especially internationally, or STOP STUPIDLY SIGNING AWAY OUR LEGAL-CONTRACTUAL RIGHTS to secure these overseas markets, ourselves.
Free up the markets, secure markets, attract CAPITALIST investors, divest government agricultural lands to the people, youth, farmers, rural folk. Then, stand aside and SEE the full economic and business transformation of the rural and urban constituencies in dear HIROUNA, the highest potential micro State: SVG.
The problem is government, and the increasing despotic control and LENINIST PERVERSION.
The solution is astute Government, minus COMMUNISM AND DESPOTISM.
LET the people alone, to do their business, peacefully farm their lands, make their products, and otherwise prosecute the affairs of a free, independant, proud and productive nation.
Did you notice that any time we give these political rascals more than one political term - - - that they soon begin to behave as if they own us and were there to intimidate, threaten, cajole, and coerce us? Instead of they being the servants and we the masters, they soon turn it around instead - - - and vainlygloriously 'SHOW' WORLD AND COUNTRY that THEY ARE OUR MASTERS, not the otherway around.
Power corrupts; absolute power CORRUPTS ABSOLUTELY.
Quo vadis, country . . . S.V.G. ?
The paradoxical problems of Georgetown are but a microcosm of the problems of the State of SVG-writ large.
The solution: a free Government of SVG. Absent: 'socialist orientation', marxism-leninism, scienitific socialism, international socialism, soviets, 'assemblies', central committees of the communist parties, hugo sulpur-smell, dotish castro, and. also, MINUS Communist Ralphie.
Ralph, and his communist masters, have no clue. COMMUNISM equals FAILURE plus a CANCEROUS IDEOLOGICAL SYSTEM.
SUGAR-TOWN Georgetown has a fabulously bright future ahead of all this current impoverishment - - - BEYOND COMMUNISM, RALPH GONSALVES and his corrupt incumbent regime.
Keep your heads up, people of the East.