The state of the town of Chateaubelair is an embarrassment to North Leeward, says Parliament representative for the area Roland “Patel” Matthews.
Matthews told a village meeting in Sharpes, Chateaubelair on Monday, that there is no banking service in the town.
“This is 2020. This is 2020, people. We have tourists coming into Chateaubelair with their cards asking where is the ATM. Somebody say, ‘In Barrouallie.’ When yo’ go to the bank in Barrouallie and yo’ line up, Ben [Exeter] people cutting up behind yo’ because dem ah say, ‘Way alyo bank dey?’” he told the meeting.
He told constituents that when they vote for him and his New Democratic Party (NDP) a branch of the Bank of SVG would open in Chateaubelair.
“We have to bring back Chateaubelair as a town. We must bring it back,” he said.
Matthews, a two-term MP who is seeking re-election, said that, at one point, North Leeward produced a lot of agricultural produce.
“Rose Hall was the mecca of the eastern Caribbean when it comes to carrot production. Where is Rose Hall today,” he said, adding that the Minister of Agriculture Saboto Caesar wastes time posing off in front of farmers, wearing jacket and tie and water boots, for the sake of a photo.
“Right now, I am shadowing the Ministry of Agriculture and I can tell you this, that we in the New Democratic Party, we have an idea that will make agriculture better,” Matthews said.
“I am saying to you that when you vote for the NDP, we will ensure that our agriculture is given the top priority, because St. Vincent and the Grenadines, we were once referred to as the breadbasket of the eastern Caribbean.
“Today, if you go in primary school and you ask a simple question, ‘What is the chief crop of St. Vincent?’ the pickney dem nah know wha’ fuh tell yo’. You know why? Right now, in agriculture, things are so bad in agriculture; they cannot tell you what the main crop is.
“Brothers and sisters, people of North Leeward. This is our constituency. This is our year that we will make sure that the New Democratic Party is in government.”
He said that during the NDP years from 1984 to 2001, the NDP improved “every crack and crevice” throughout the country and improved the lives of the people, including by building the North Leeward Highway.
“When the government put in the infrastructure, the people make the investment. We have to continue.”
Matthews said that the NDP has “been there; done that” and is prepared to do it again.
“We have the best leader [who is] fitter and better by far,” he said of party leader Godwin Friday.
“Under a New Democratic Party [government], everybody will have an equal opportunity to make life here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” he said, mentioning the proposed constituency development fund.
“When you hear they come ‘round and they talk, … just simply ask them, ‘What have you done for me, lately? What have you done for me as an individual in North Leeward? Ask them the question,” he said of the ruling Unity Labour Party, which is seeking a fifth consecutive term in office.
He told them that when his opponent, Carlos James of the ULP comes seeking their vote, they should ask him the question that Exeter, who is likely to be the NDP’s candidate in Central Leeward, asked at the same meeting.
“‘Mr. James, where are you living in North Leeward?’” Matthews said. “’I can go to Petit Bordel and I can ask anybody where Patel lives. But if I come and I am looking for you who you want me to vote for, where can I find you?’”
“As he (Exeter) said, ‘If you look in the phonebook, ‘Roland ‘Patel’ Matthews, 458-2245. Petit Bordel.’ But where can you find the phone number of my opponent? As I always say, I born yah. I live yah; and if I have it my way, me dead yah,” Matthews said.
“You know why? I am committed, not 25%, not 50%, not 75%; 100% of my commitment is to the people of this beautiful constituency and I will stick to that and make it my last breath to make sure that better is done for North Leeward people,” Matthews said.
He said that when he came to politics as a university student in 2001, he knew it would be an uphill battle.
He lost then and in 2005, before the people elected him to office.
Matthews said that in 2015, “despite all the shenanigans”, “Patel Matthews come forth”
“I cannot give anybody poor relief, I can’t give anybody lumber, I can’t give you galvanise, I have little or no resource. I will give people but I won’t put it on Facebook to embarrass people. People who are here today, you can testify of what I can do or what I have done for you.”
He said that 19 years in office for one party is too long.
“Ralph Gonsalves has run out of ideas. All his ideas now are ideas of the New Democratic Party. We talk about a hospital with helipad, he wants to do it. We talk about ambulance here to the Grenadines or North Windward where you can fly people to the hospital, he talking about that. I talk about cruise ship berth for Chateau, he talk about the same thing. I talk about an administrative centre where the centre is down there to take care of all of North Leeward problems so that we don’t have to go to Kingstown for simple things; I hear that last night as a new plan.
“Come on people, our country need us more than ever. I am asking you again to support me and to support the New Democratic Party because I believe this year, 2020, is 20 plenty. We have to do things; we have to make things better. This is our time; our opportunity is before us. Please, my people, do not let it pass,” Matthews said.