The 150 temporary houses bought from China were needed as a matter of urgency, following the damage to several homes caused by Hurricane Elsa and the freak storm in June, Minister of Housing Dr William Duguid has insisted.
His defence of the purchase came during Sunday’s Barbados Labour Party St John constituency branch meeting, in which he cited a need to jumpstart the rebuilding process given the amount of damage caused by the cyclones.
Dr Duguid said: “When we [went] to sourcing from EastWest, which is a company registered in Barbados but providing houses already designed out of China, it is because we had to jumpstart [construction]. What we found is many times we want to do a house, but there is no place for that person to go to, so part of the houses that we are building would be transitionary houses… while those repairs or rebuilds are going on, and then move back once their house is completed.
“This will help us to jump start the work, it will be no means be all of the work, but it will certainly help us to go a long way to be able to get people back to where they were, to have a roof over their head.”
Dr Duguid also revealed that so far, 90 per cent of the survey work on the damaged homes have been completed but with limited supplies being available currently for the building repairs, contractors assigned to the rebuilding exercise have not yet been able to reach a considerable pace of work.
“We have only completed 90 per cent, and what we have found so far, we have 466 will be total rebuilds, and 1,075 so far will be repairs,” said the housing minister. “I must tell you, we have completed the assessments in St. Peter, St. Andrew, St. James, St. John, St. George and Christ Church, and we still have a few others in the other parishes to be completed.
“Even when we set up our workshops, we were finding that it was difficult to get the suppliers to even bring materials because of the sheer volume of the work, the access to the materials was challenging, and we have not even rolled out the full programme, so imagine what would happen when we got all of these 300 contractors working on 1000 repairs, what would happen then to the rebuilds.”
In a brief update on Government’s HOPE housing programme, the housing minister spoke of a planned future announcement on a new addition to the project, with a new development slated to come on stream for citizens with a monthly income of $1,000 to $2,000.
“We have gone back to the drawing board, looked to see how we could satisfy the need for those making under $2,000,” Dr Duguid said. “I have not launched the programme yet, and I don’t want to go too much into it, we definitely have a programme that will be coming to the country with very shortly.
“The Prime Minister calls it the ‘Housing Revolution’, we think it’s definitely going to be that because it gives an opportunity to those people making $1,000 – $2,000 a chance to have a house.” (SB)