PM Dr. Ralph Gonsalves beats a “drum” and shouts “Labour” in Fitz Hughes on Friday as protestors and his bodyguards look on. (Photo: Zavique Morris-Chance/IWN)

Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves was both jeered and celebrated in Fitz Hughes on Friday when he arrived to pull a ribbon, along with Major Manuel Querembas of Ecuador, to open officially a bridge built by that South American nation’s Army Corps of Engineers.

Earlier on Friday, paint was used to blot out the letters “NDP” which was written on the Bailey bridge, which replaced a concrete and steel bridge that collapsed during the December 2013 floods.

NDP is generally understood as a contraction of “New Democratic Party”, the main opposition party in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, which traditionally gets majority support in Fitz Hughes.

The bridge was one of three in North Leeward, funded and built by Ecuador that were officially opened on Friday.

The two others are located in Sharpes, and Plan in Chateaubelair.

The formalities for the opening of the bridges were held in Plan and the officials travelled to Fitz Hughes and Sharpes to pull ribbons to symbolise the opening of the bridge.

I-Witness News visited Fitz Hughes some hours before the Prime Minister’s arrival, where some residents where dressed in yellow, the colour of the NDP, and the party’s campaign t-shirts, while others wore red, the colour of Gonsalves’ Unity Labour Party.

At least one woman wore a ULP campaign t-shirt. (Scroll for full photo album)

The bridge Ecuadorian-built bridge in Plan, Chateaubelair. (IWN photo)
The bridge Ecuadorian-built bridge in Plan, Chateaubelair. (IWN photo)

 

A number of NDP campaign t-shirts, including at least one bearing the face of MP for North Leeward, the NDP’s Roland “Patel” Matthews, were strung on a line high above head on one section of the road.

Villagers bantered each other about their political support in a lively, but respectful manner, with some of those advocating for the NDP accusing those shouting ULP slogans of actually being NDP supporters.

“Alyo nah good! Alyo nah good! Labour! Labour! Labour!” one woman shouted at another, who fired back, “NDP! NDP! NDP!”

https://youtu.be/lzq72US66m8

“Time for a change! Time for a change! We want a change,” one woman blurted out, adding that of the many persons on the block (roadside), none of them had a job.

“Watch so much idlers on the block. What Labour have (sic) to give alyo? Nothing!” she said.

“Labour! Labour! Arwe nah tun back! Arwe nah tun back,” said a woman dressed in a ULP t-shirt, who another woman said was not a “true one” — supposedly meaning not a genuine ULP supporter.

Villagers told I-Witness that they were ready to vote.

“We hear the Prime Minister is coming here and we the people of Fitz Hughes want the election to call right now, because watch so many young people on the block with nothing to do. We want a change,” one woman told I-Witness News.

General elections are constitutionally due in March 2016.

When this was pointed out to residents, another woman responded, “The Constitution nah been contain that when Ralph Gonsalves demanded election before ye time?” — a reference to the “Roadblock Revolution” of 2000 that shortened the life of the NDP administration and forced early elections.

Gonsalves has said that Vincentians will elect a new government before the end of 2015.

NDP t-shirts hang overhead in Fitz Hughes on Friday. (IWN photo)
NDP t-shirts hang overhead in Fitz Hughes on Friday. (IWN photo)

“Ecuadorian Bridge! Ecuadorian Bridge! I feel nice and happy because we have a bridge to come into our little community. Everybody must live happy and be together as one,” another woman, a few feet away, told I-Witness News.

She said she didn’t care whether it was NDP or Labour. “I here for the bridge,” she said and continued to chant “Ecuadorian bridge! Ecuadorian bridge!”

A man told I-Witness News that he is glad that the bridge was build, adding that none of them who were “campaigning” on Friday had gotten work on the bridge, but were happy that it was built.

“We shoot fish everyday,” he said. “A nice bridge,” he added. “Nah Labour Bridge, NDP — just a nice bridge.”

The man told I-Witness News that he thinks it was “foolishness” to have painted “NDP” on the bridge ahead of the formal opening.

“They shudda wait until everything done. Gonsalves supposed to come and cut the ribbon. They shouldn’t mark up nothing; they shudda wait,” he said.

The man, who had changed into a ULP t-shirt by the time Gonsalves arrived later that afternoon, added that after the formalities, residents could have painted the bridge in any colour they wanted.

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves and Ecuadorian army engineers pose on the bridge in Plan, Chateaubelair. (Photo: Zavique Morris-Chance/IWN)
Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, right, along with Major Manuel Querembas of the Ecuador Army and Carlos James, ULP candidate for North Leeward officially open the bridge in Fitz Hughes on Friday. (Photo: Zavique Morris-Chance/IWN)

A woman told I-Witness News that the Ecuadorians “claimed” that they did not get any help from the Government of SVG or Gonsalves.

The Ecuadorian government agreed to build the bridge when Gonsalves visited Quito in the aftermath of the severe weather that destroyed the initial river crossing.

“Bridge nah come from Ecuador. Bridge come from St. Lucia since February last year,” one woman said in an apparent reference to the steel structure of the bridge, some of which was donated by St. Lucia several months before the Ecuadorian team arrived.

In addition to assembling the Bailey Bridges, Ecuador funded and constructed the abuttments and river defences at a cost of US$3.7 million.

Related:

Another woman told I-Witness News that she agreed with “NDP” being painted on the bridge because Labour supporters were saying it was a Labour bridge, although the billboard erected nearly clearly says it was funded by Ecuador.

Related:

Speaking during the opening ceremony, Gonsalves said the opposition has opposed the construction of the bridges and gave no help at all.

“No moral support; nothing. But then, some people in the opposition, clearly with the connivance of the leadership of the opposition, gone and do something which I consider a besmirching of the goodness and godliness of the people of North Leeward, by completely indecent and ungrateful, disrespectful … to go and paint up the place in yellow,” he said.

“My answer to their assault on goodness and godliness is very simple,” Gonsalves said, and sang the chorus “I’m building a bridge”.

“And nobody could disturb God plan,” Gonsalves said at the end of his singing.

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves is greeted by supporters in Fitz Hughes on Friday. (Photo: Zavique Morris-Chance)
Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves is greeted by supporters in Fitz Hughes on Friday. (Photo: Zavique Morris-Chance)

When he arrived in Fitz Hughes Friday evening, Gonslaves was greeted by persons beating makeshift drums and blowing a conch shell in protest, while other chanted support for him.

The Prime Minister, escorted by several members of his security detail along with members of the Rapid Response Unit, a tactical unit of the Police Force, walked into the yard where some women were beating the makeshift drums, took the stick from one of them, started beating the large container she was using as a drum, shouting “Labour! Labour!” to the amusement of the women and other persons. (See video at end)

He exchanged pleasantries with persons before proceeding back to the bridge, amidst supporters shouting “Labour”, to pull the ribbon to open the bridge formally.

The fourth bridge constructed by the Ecuadorians, located in Hope, Penniston, will be officially opened on Monday.

(I-Witness News apologies for the quality of the sound in this video. Scroll for photo album)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nDUlY-oPvZk&feature=youtu.be

Posted by iWitness News on Saturday, June 20, 2015

4 replies on “PM jeered, celebrated at bridge opening in Fitz Hughes (+Videos)”

  1. My private Garden in the square in London where I live has a bridge as big as that over the Coy Carp pond. A Bailey Bridge is a temporary structure, this is being presented as a permanent structure, only the concrete staunching are permanent.

    Can you believe a prime minister of any other country in the world would come to open a temporary Bailey Bridge, I find it impossible to believe the stupidity of him and his followers, no wonder he was booed. The Ecuadorian soldiers must have laughed themselves to sleep that night.

    Yes madam you are quite right they did come from Saint Lucia. There is no way in this world that building the six staunching for three Bailey bridges, and the erection of the three used temporary bridges cost US$3.7 million, that is EC$10 million.

    If you think about it Saint Lucia gave or sold them to us, they are second hand, previously used. Because they are temporary constructions, for temporary use.

    1. Luther Bonadie says:

      Peter,
      You guys make me laugh. You people got nothing in your heads but yam, dashine, and green Banana, with a wash-eh-Kong on there feet.
      You said you live in London, there is a old saying that ” every Vincentian who goes to England will get crazy ” you are the example.
      So now, I know why you have such foolish attitudes.
      Here is something for you, why don’t you go on any street in London, and tell a white man good morning, and see how he reacts to an alien.

      1. You see why I called you an idiot? What is wrong with Dasheen,Yam and Green Banana? That’s why you all so dotish, you have it in your head that something else is always better than what you have. No wonder the PM could fool you all so much. Usain Bolt said it’s those foods that gives him the energy to be the fastest man in the world but we have idiots like you in Vincy who want to eat rice and KFC everyday. You really are a special kind of idiot. Dr Ralph must laugh his belly full at night at you all for believing his nonsense.

  2. petergriffin says:

    The ULP cannot go into the next general elections hoping to be reelected on the basis of their record so the opening of a simple makeshift bridge is a gigantic achievement for them hence the reason why king Gonsalves has to journey all that distance to cut a ribbon.Does the cutting of a ribbon mean that the economy is going to improvement to provide jobs for the youths whom gonsalves and the ULP claim to love so much?

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