LETTER: Praises and Concerns from a Local Citizen

Secretary-General António Guterres (on screens) addresses the official opening of the fourth International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS4). PHOTO UN

To the Editors of Antigua Newsroom,

I write to you anonymously to commend the Government of Antigua & Barbuda for hosting the 4th International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS 4).

It is indeed a significant achievement for our nation, and the leadership of our Prime Minister, the Honorable Gaston Browne, as the chairperson for SIDS, is highly commendable.

This event is an opportunity for Antigua & Barbuda to showcase its commitment to sustainable development and to engage with global leaders on issues that directly impact our future.

However, while celebrating this milestone, some concerns merit attention and public discussion.

Firstly, I have observed that significant efforts were made by the Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA) to ensure that lighting was available on the road leading to the conference location at the American University of Antigua (AUA), even during dangerous storms.

While it is commendable that APUA worked tirelessly to present our nation in the best light for visiting dignitaries, it raises a critical question: why are such efforts not equally applied to the daily needs of our citizens? Our country has been grappling with rolling blackouts, lack of street lighting, and significant water shortages.

It seems unfair that these essential services are prioritized only when we have international visitors, leaving the public to endure substandard utilities in their everyday lives. Our people deserve consistent and reliable access to electricity and water, not just during high-profile events.

Secondly, the choice of venue for the SIDS 4 conference has also raised eyebrows.

The decision to host the conference at the American University of Antigua, a private institution, rather than the University of the West Indies (UWI), which is considered a national treasure, is perplexing.

The UWI, a public entity, with its rich history and significant contributions to higher education in the region, seems like a more appropriate and symbolic venue for such a prestigious event.

Moreover, there have been reports indicating that the UWI has secured millions in financing for expansion. Given this context, why was a private university chosen over our esteemed public institution?

This decision could imply a preference for private over public, which is concerning given that public institutions rely heavily on government support and are integral to national development.

Hosting the SIDS 4 conference is indeed a proud moment for Antigua & Barbuda, but it also presents an opportunity to address these underlying issues.

Ensuring that our citizens receive the same level of service and care as our international guests, and reaffirming our commitment to public institutions like the UWI, will demonstrate that our dedication to development is inclusive and far-reaching.

Thank you for considering these concerns, and I hope they will spark a constructive dialogue about how we can better serve our nation while continuing to engage with the international community.


A Concerned Citizen

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  1. Look out for work to be done on Piggots road over the coming days ahead of the cricket, after months of neglect. Yes yes it is obvious that this government cares nothing about the citizens. The use the excuse of a lack of resources when it suits them, when they are the ones who squandered the said resources in the first place.

  2. I have to agree with all that’s being said here. It makes no sense that AUA is the venue of choice over UWI. Wasn’t UWI our prize possession? I’m sure AUA paid for the venue and received many concessions, but why not UWI? Why not the millions in loan monies to build a money-making conference center that can generate revenue?

    The situation for APUA is just crazy. Those men were in storm weather dealing with electricity for a conference? I understand they are professionals, but it certainly looked as if they were risking their lives.

  3. I don’t think this article even makes rational sense. We would have seen APUA’s men working relentlessly after a storm to get Antigua back to norm several times – obviously priority would be given to recovery at such a time.

    Now, Antigua is hosting its biggest even ever – with other world leaders and news media that would not normally visit Antigua – don’t you think that priority should be given to such an occasion? Don’t you do extra preparations at home when you are expecting guests?

    As to the location, which of the two campus that you mentioned would need less preparation to host such an event? By far, the AUA campus was in a much better shape. Look at the geographical location of both campus, which one is more accessible? Think about the campus location to most hotels and the campus location to our security forces – I would say the AUA campus was by far the better choice.

    Obviously, I was not part of the decision makers, but just thinking about it I can understand that the decision to use that campus was a better choice. Why can’t we just give a positive comment and leave it there? Why do we have to always find the negative?

  4. When I see letters like these the most I do is to congratulate antiguanewsroom for giving everyone an opportunity to be heard. Free speech is indeed live and kicking here. With that said has this writer really gave thoughts as to the pros and cons of hosting an event like this at either AUA or UWI. No rationale thinking person can tell me that UWI would have outweighed AUA.

  5. Writer your concerns are not really concerns. They are cultural. We put our best foot forward when we are welcoming guests in our home. We did so in the old days when we had a Royal visit. We even do so when going to church on Sunday. We put on our best clothe when we going to meet the Governor General. When my parents were inviting guest for diner, we took out the special silverware and China. We did all these things to impress our guest. So too we are doing all these to impress our guest. It will cost us lots of money. Those APUA guys will be paid a premium for doing the same work they do at any normal day. So live with the fact that we put our best foot forward when we have visitors. And in this case these visitors are not your everyday visitors. And not to mention their security protocol. Not seen before in this country. The PM when shopping in Epicurean doesn’t have a body guard walking with him. But now he is not able to go anywhere without special security protocol.

  6. That is Antiguans for you. Never see the positive only negative. Always have something to complain about. They always want to compare with other islands. I don’t why Antiguans always what’s to put us as if we are worst off than anyone else. SMH.

  7. The reason AUA and not the appropriate choice of UWI was simply graft. We know AUA has a long history of cosy agreements with various politicians and business owners on the island. This is just one further example where they were able to use their financial influence to boost their profits at the expense of a local institution.

  8. The whole matter is thePM don’t want the visitors to pass through the worst part of Antigua to get to UWI

  9. @ Bitter and Badminded, why don’t you just keep rolling over onto your back and let the political authorities “tickle” your tummy and your mind.

    You sound like a simpleton?

    Antigua needs more educated and critical minded thinkers. Urgently!

  10. How will this be ever possible, when they don’t love the skin they’re in. Charity begins at home: as the old adage states. Thus, tangible effects must be beneficial for that masses to relish and savior; when manifested in changes impacting to enhance on one’s economic and, environmental space. The satiated contempt of governance for the uplifting of the governed – is mirror and, magnified by the presentation offered for the common good of all citizens and, not to adorn or, endorse segmented exclusivity catered to the affluence of the few offshore speculating profiteers. (1) Tangible effect should entail: Foreign pro bono arrangements for road building infrastructure materials to include, but not limited to asphalt, cement and machinery for a ten -year Capital Island Wide Improvements. (2) Enact legislation to outlaw galvanized fencing ( especially in St.John’s) (3) Negotiate Technology transfer for lite-manufacturing, assembly and fabrications – as a pivotal trajectory for divergence, “away” from the preferred exclusive residential enclaves most prevalent as direct investment. (4) Invoke luxury tax on residential dwellings valued at three millions dollar and up. (5) Create Parish Councils with autonomy and, authority of an annual budget, mandated to effect parish maintenance and beautification, with a “Public Works” depot; with adequate human resources and equipments. Thus decentralizing Public Works for better accountability and efficiency. *Ah! The palpable thoughts of a Layman’s reprieve and, all the best be reserve: for my people.

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