Minister of the Environment and Draining Dr Denis Lowe is strongly defending his stewardship of the Christ Church East constituency over the past eight years.
In an apparent response to an article published by Barbados TODAY last Friday in which some constituents gave him a failing grade for his performance as their Member of Parliament, Lowe Tuesday insisted he had done a lot of good for the constituency.
In the article, part of a series testing the Pulse of the People ahead of the general election due within a year, the majority of the people with whom Barbados TODAY spoke were longstanding Democratic Labour Party (DLP) supporters, who said they were no longer sure if they wanted to vote for Lowe because they felt he had not performed.
Some of the constituents complained of poor roads, water outages, poor sanitation service and broken promises.
However, Lowe dismissed the accounts, saying the story had failed to highlight the work he had done in the constituency since he became its representative.
The minister was speaking to reporters Tuesday morning following the handing over of the keys to a new three-bedroom wooden house to Marlene Bourne and her family in Parish Land, Christ Church.
The house was built under the Implementation Stabilization Enablement and Empowerment (ISEE) bridge programme of 2012, which was established to tackle inter-generational poverty as part of a wider poverty alleviation and reduction programme.
“The work in this constituency continues and if you really want to know what is happening talk to those people who have been helped, that is where the story is. It is not on the block or at the rum shop or as one newspaper would make you believe. It is in places like these where people’s lives are being touched and a lot of people are offended that anyone would suggest that help had not come to this constituency, because much help has come,”
“In fact, let me say more help has come under our administration than under the years that the other administration ruled in this constituency . . . There is a lot more to be done because a lot was left undone, and therefore what we intend to do is continue to press forward and to help. So please, media, when you tell your story, find those persons who have been helped,” Lowe stressed.
Lowe said over the last eight years he had repaired or built close to 300 houses for constituents, added over 150 wells for those who had sewerage problems and installed close to 400 streetlights. All of which, he said, was done under various programmes introduced by the DLP administration.
“One of the things we have tried to do in this area and across the community is to ensure that at least one person in every house is working so as to continue to support the efforts of families. We have not completed that target but we have hit that target hard. And if I might say so myself, we are now into about 320 job opportunities created for my constituents, and I know how much they appreciate it,” he said, although he did not reveal those opportunities.
“It is not an idle boast. It is just an arduous effort to ensure that people are better off today than they were when we came into being.”
With at least eight more people expected to receive help this year under the Government social programme, both Lowe and Minister of Social Care Steve Blackett, under whose ministry the programme falls, dismissed any suggestion that the delivery of the houses was a general election ploy.
In fact, Lowe said given that over 40 families had received assistance under the programme over the past eight years, it was clear this had nothing to do with elections.
“This is not any election gimmick, if there are those who label it as that. It is very unfortunate that they are so ill informed or mischievous in this time of election silliness. For us we were given a mandate when we took over our ministries. The Cabinet continues to monitor our performance in the delivery of that mandate and we are going to build houses, do roads and other types of constituency-based efforts up to the night before the elections,” the parliamentarian said.
Meantime, Blackett made it clear that the houses were built once the need was identified and the households met
“This programme is not an electioneering kind of programme . . . When occasions like this are recommended by the Members of Parliament from either side we respond through the Ministry of Social Care to alleviate and reduce the poverty that these households find themselves in. So this is no electioneering, we do this as an ongoing thing,” Blackett assured.