LETTER: Praises and Concerns from a Local Citizen

The content originally appeared on: Antigua News Room
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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