PRIME Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s disclosure that while there was an urgent need for replacement vessels for the sea bridge, State officials declined to entertain offers that had been sent which could have helped, is not surprising. Given the long, sordid history of our inter-island ferry woes, it is clear that much was amiss at the State agencies in charge of these matters. But the current efforts to acquire new vessels will hopefully draw a line and bring us closer to a resolution of this headache, which has long plagued commuters and taxpayers.
While we look to the future, it is also important for all wrong-doers to be held accountable in relation to the many claims of irregularities and corruption to ensure that fresh efforts do not end up becoming tainted in the long-run by the same practices that have brought us to this point in the first place.
Progress on the sea bridge is definitely needed if our wider development plans are to take hold. Developing the tourism industry demands proper infrastructure, as well as proper systems of maintenance and regulation. We applaud any measure that will bring us closer to a more accommodating business environment. With the economy poised to make a rebound, now is the time to put measures in place that will generate sustainable wealth. A highly functional sea-bridge will also open up new avenues for development in both islands.
Progress on the sea bridge was just one positive outcome from Rowley’s trip to China and Australia. The planned industrial park at Point Fortin also has the capacity to be a game-changer. Finance Minister Colm Imbert’s disclosure of plans for investments by Chinese firms bodes well for this project which must be facilitated as soon as possible.
But as with everything a government does, it is important for there to be timely and comprehensive communication with all of the pertinent stakeholders and the population at large so that they can have a better appreciation of the nuances involved. It is also crucial that the State learns from past mistakes in order to ensure all progress is preserved and built upon.
In this regard, there needs to be a new structure in place when it comes to the management of the proposed industrial park. While eTeck has been assigned the task of implementing this measure, it must do so in a way that ensures the project can be one of which we are all proud. Therefore, the State must also ensure state agencies are also properly sensitised to the need to develop coherent policies that can take us to developed nation status. This must relate to procurement as well as strategic direction.