The Government of St Lucia has received assistance from the Government of the United Kingdom and the Caribbean Development Bank to rehabilitate and upgrade 40 kilometres of the Millennium Highway and West Coast Road.
According to a release from the CDB, both roadways make up a third of the island’s road network and link the capital, Castries, with the western town of Soufriere.
“This road project will result in increased economic activity and more resilient infrastructure. We envision the rehabilitation and upgrading of the two roads [ to bring] benefits to the most disadvantaged in Saint Lucia through improved mobility, accessibility, and climate resilience,” CDB Vice-President of Operations Monica La Bennet stated.
For its part, the CDB’s board of directors has approved a loan disbursement of US$8 million, while the Government of the United Kingdom will offer a grant of £28-million (US$35-million).The latter will provide the grant through the CDB-administered United Kingdom Caribbean Infrastructure Fund.
“Our support to the Millennium Highway and West Coast Road project is a very tangible demonstration of the UK’s commitment to Saint Lucia — a key Commonwealth partner for Global Britain. This project will be transformative — significantly contributing to economic development and improving access to Saint Lucia’s agriculture and tourism sectors,” said British High Commissioner to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Janet Douglas.
In the meantime, the Government of St Lucia will contribute US$9 million of its own funds to the US$52-million project.
“This road project will result in increased economic activity and more resilient infrastructure.”— Caribbean Development Bank Vice-President of Operations Monica La Bennet
The rehabilitation and upgrading project not only aims to reduce the overall travel time on the two thoroughfares, but also improve road safety and, by extension, vastly lower the number of accidents and fatalities.
For example, the project will include the reconstruction of the narrow bridge at Anse La Raye Village to meet international standards and to allow traffic in both directions. Vehicular and pedestrian traffic will also be separated to make the bridge safer.
“The upgrading of the roads requires the acquisition of 3.5 acres of land,” the CDB release explains.
As such, the St Lucian Government will have to relocate eleven households on such land and relocate or compensate 15 roadside vendors in Roseau Valley, situated dangerously close to the roadside.
In addition, the Government will offer the vendors — most of them women selling souvenirs to tourists — training in business development and life skills.
Furthermore, to accommodate the planned relocation of St Lucia’s port from Castries to Cul de Sac, the road upgrade project will ensure that the corridor to new port can handle increased traffic in its environs.