ST JOHN’S – The government is concerned that Barbudans are not returning to the island to fix their own homes, even as residents complain about the transportation problems associated with doing just that.
Minister of Information Melford Nicholas mentioned the issue at Thursday’s post-Cabinet media briefing.
“We did learn from the minister of health that the pace at which the in-home and the private property clean-up is taking place has been a cause for concern,” the minister said. “He has asked us to consider and we did consider that the National Office of Disaster Services (NODS), the National Solid Waste Authority would seek to work along with the Barbudans.”
The NODS assistance, he noted, would be in the form of material support.
“They’re not going to be helping at the level of any manpower, it’s really the material that they’ve got. There’s a stockpile now of building material in Barbuda that will continue to be shipped over such that when the homeowners get in to the position of commencing the restoration and repairs to their own homes that the material is there.”
The distribution, Nicholas added, would be done in consultation with the Barbuda Council.
The minister said the way was clear for Barbudans to return to the island with the prior provision of portable generators, water supply and medical services. Telephone service was restored and the minister said that street lights should be back on “in a week or two.”
The minister also pointed out that Barbuda Councilman Trevor Walker was provided with a generator free of cost and was expected to repair his gas station, the only one on the island, so that vehicles could refuel.
However, as reported by OBSERVER media on Tuesday, Barbudans were frustrated that they could not travel freely.
The Barbuda Express, which seats 57 passengers, is being used to ferry residents and does one round trip per day. Some 1,400 people were evacuated from Barbuda.
Lynton Thomas, a Barbuda evacuee and former Barbuda senator, was among scores of residents stuck at the Heritage Quay dock on Tuesday after they were unable to board the vessel for the island.