After a spate of fires destroyed six homes between 2017 and 2018 which residents blamed on outdated wiring, those who occupy the National Housing Corporation Units at Haynesville can rest easier now that Government has begun to remedy the problem.
This morning, Minister of Foreign Trade Sandra Husbands, who is also the Member of Parliament for St James South, told reporters that $2 million has been allocated for the rewiring of the 250 units.
The Minister made the revelation during a walkthrough of her constituency with Minster of Transport and Works Dr William Duguid and his junior Minister Peter Phillips.
“Despite the limitations and the heavy demands that we had for putting money in sewage and drainage, buses, sanitation and so on, Prime Minister [Mia Mottley] sought to prioritise this particular initiative because it was so important to preservation of life and property. The rewiring programme started last year in October and a number of contracts were distributed to small contractors and they were able to get 20 units done before Christmas. We have just started back this year and we are now at the halfway mark.”
Husbands, who has been vocal about the issue in the two years prior to unseating then MP Donville Inniss, noted her happiness that living conditions of her constituents were now a lot safer.
“In the housing area the wiring is over 40 years old and each unit only has one outlet in the living room, one in the kitchen and one between the two bedrooms upstairs. Modern families have a lot of appliances and that setup could not carry that load. So we had breakers tripping, sparks flying and then we had four house fires and six units were destroyed,” said Husbands, who made mention of one man who received an electric shock while showering.
She further noted, “So we now have three outlets in the living room, three in the kitchen and two in each bedroom. This makes a tremendous difference and the residents are very happy now because they no longer live in fear of getting a call at work that their house is on fire or do they have to jump up in fear from the sound of sparks.”
In October 2017 following a blaze which gutted the unit belonging to Ryan Odle, then Minister of Housing Denis Kellman promised that the Freundel Stuart administration would undertake the remedial work necessary to address the electrical issues.
“I would first have to wait on my senior staff and the technocrats to advise on what is happening and the next steps . . . first we will have to have the incident investigated by fire officials and the police…The engineers are seeking to bring closure to these issues,” Kellman said then.