By Sheldon Bramble
Kingstown, our capital city, is said to have been established by the French after 1722. That was a very, very, long time ago. In the 2012 census, over 12,700 persons resided in Kingstown and over 13,700 in its suburbs. It is not an empty town for sure.
The roads of St. Vincent all seem to lead to Kingstown. Public transport gets our residents there from almost every corner of the island. It has been the main commercial centre for years and if visions are clear, we will admit we have long outgrown Kingstown’s ability to contain everything we still want to squeeze into it. It is indeed a choked and congested little piece of our country. But progressive and properly informed vision and planning can give it the lift and release that our nation and people deserve.
Diffusion economic and commercial activity away from Kingstown
This futuristic view of SVG needs study and planning and will serve our citizens more adequately. There is a need for our leaders to stop and evaluate, forecast and plan as everyone can see that “running to town” for everything has not been working for Vincentians for a long time.
Some of our banks and supermarkets have opened branches in other towns. Our medical offerings are beginning to reflect this too. This is certainly in line with the idea of decreasing the burden for our people to take half a day to do one small errand in town. It is important for us to be able to do more “town things” right in our local villages. Our increased road accidents and exponentially increasing traffic is hinting to us about how we ought to dream bigger and start seeing that planning and development by forward thinking and proactive leadership is a must.
Streets and pavements:
There is a shameful problem with the streets of Kingstown that have existed unchanged for so long and it is not getting attention up to now. It is true that our city capital Kingstown has some special charms which include historic buildings and arches. However, Vincentians have been forced to develop a special kind of “walking style” for manoeuvring the streets there. It is like everyone has to experience a kind of obstacle training to negotiate the pavements. Whether it’s a hot dry day or a rainy day, a pedestrian must have a special kind of “suspension” in their joints to cope with a walk through our capital city. These challenges certainly can outweigh its charms.
If it is this way for us locals, we can imagine how a visitor feels on leaving after trying to navigate this rundown part of our nation. Can we honestly say this is a very good impression for them? It is certainly not fit for us and actually a bit of a national embarrassment.
In Kingstown, pedestrians juggle with much care for how every footstep is made, the meeting and greeting of acquaintances and passersby that our social cultural norms demand. This must be the case, lest they trip and fall or twist or sprain something.
Heaven forbids that it rains while one is attempting to get around town. Our people are very well acquainted with this and there is no need to go into more detail here. The elderly suffer most and our children are put at great risk.
A loud call for urgent action by an able government
To our “Town Board”, government and related ministries, our city urgently needs to be intelligently renovated? What is your plan to move beyond removing vendors off the streets of Kingstown? What is your plan to restore our city streets and provide level, even and safe pavements for every Vincentian to walk on? When can we see better drains and overpasses for pedestrians? Is there a plan to bring more green spaces into our capital? How will we see congestion decrease in Kingstown and the surrounding areas during the next five years? How will Kingstown become a town we can all unreservedly be proud of?
These are the matters that need serious attention on the part of a government that we can support — a government which fulfils promises and has practical plans for the intelligent development of Kingstown.
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