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Kenrick Quashie. (iWN file photo)
Kenrick Quashie. (iWN file photo)

By Kenrick Quashie 

It is a fact that prime ministers swear an oath to govern without favour. It is expected though, that as a parliamentarian and the prime minister, some special attention will be given to their constituency.

After 22 years of Ralph Gonsalves as prime minister, North Central Windward (NCW) has little to show that indeed it is a constituency represented by a prime minister. Georgetown is still a ghost town. Pockets of the highest concentration of poverty can be found in the NCW. Unemployment is higher than the national average and there is no economic buzz.

Because the PM is a parliamentary representative like other MPs, constituents reasonably agree to make sacrifices. They understand that their representative won’t be present within the constituency as much as they would like. However, they expect for the absence to be compensated with development projects within the constituency.

PM Gonsalves may wish to boast about the Modern Medical Complex or the humongous police station in Georgetown, two learning resource centres and a recently-refurbished sporting facility but that’s about it. In one of the St. George’s, quite a bit of development has happened, Rainforest’s seafood processing plant, upgrades on several playing fields, a new Parliament building, road work aplenty, and so on and so on.

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The challenge though is that these projects in NCW do not address the heart of the problems which plague this devout ULP constituency.  

As a matter of fact, when it rains, police officers have to use buckets to catch water at the Georgetown Police Station. It took several years to get back a fire service in the constituency which includes one of the six towns.

The Modern Medical Complex took forever to be completed and was not treated as a priority. (I have long concluded that health care in this country is not a priority for the ULP administration).

The sporting facilities are so tightly secured that they can’t even be accessed by community people for training and after school/work leisure time activities.

NCW constituents still have to travel to Kingstown to pay simple things such as driver’s license and to access most government services. No real effort has been made to make Georgetown a major hub of commercial activity, as it should be.

The roads are horrible and sometimes worse than other parts of the country.

Frankly, Gonsalves, as prime minister and parliamentarian, has failed miserably at transforming NCW and creating a legacy of development that will live beyond him.

Perhaps he is content with the beaten argument of the closure of the sugar factory almost 40 years ago?

Georgetown went without a public library for more than 10 years and it still doesn’t have a proper home, layout or setup.

The meat market is yet to be replaced. The farmers’ irrigation system which was destroyed has not been replaced.

Gonsalves has done well at meeting some of his constituents’ personal needs and connecting with them on a one-on-one level. However, on a macro scale, there is no real development in NCW.

Former Prime Minister Sir James Mitchell set the bar of PM-style constituency representation. His legacy still lives on in the North Grenadines and remnants of his superb representation exist today.

As I have said over and over, even Jerry Scott and the late John Horne did better at real economic development in their constituency with remnants of their work still existing more than 20 years after leaving office than in Gonsalves 22 years and counting as PM and Parliamentary Representation of NCW.

Georgetown has so much potential that can spill over to neighbouring communities and constituencies. NCW under Gonsalves’s prime ministership should have been a model that others wished they could emulate.

The saddest thing is that one cannot even look at another constituency across the country to say, “Ah, well emphasis was placed on this over the other.”

They are all run down and economically deprived. How long again will the constituents of NCW continue to allow their MP to rub mess in their mouths and call it butter?

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