As many as 400 Vincentians are expected to find employment in a rehabilitation project that involves the clearing of volcanic ash and debris from 10 rivers in North Windward.
Work on the removal of debris to allow for a free flow of water in the river beds has already begun but the project was officially launched last Friday, March 25, 2022. It is one segment under a US$3 million post-volcanic eruption rehabilitation and reconstruction project in an agreement signed between the Governments of Taiwan and St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG).
Under the grant financing agreement, US$1.2 million is allocated for the Government of SVG to purchase the heavy equipment needed for the cleaning of rivers; repairing the Rabacca Bridge carries a total cost of US$100,000; and US$1.7 million is allocated for the river cleaning and training, debris removal, and river defense work in the areas severely impacted by the eruptions of La Soufriere.
Speaking at Friday’s ceremony which took place on the banks of the London river, Ambassador Peter Sha-Li Lan of the Republic of China on Taiwan said: “Taiwan stands with our friends here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines from the beginning after the volcano eruptions La Soufriere last April. Our commitment is a total budget of about 3 million US dollars.”
Between 350 – 400 locals are expected to be employed in the river clearing phase of the project which is being done by Overseas Engineering and Construction Company Limited (OECC) of Taiwan, in collaboration with local subcontractors.
There are 19 river crossings north of the Rabacca River, but the contract deals with the 10 most important. These river crossings are the Fancy River, Owia, Cayo River, Karo River, London, Sandy Bay, Overland, Noel River, and Orange Hill river. During the estimated 10 months duration of the project an estimated 82,000 cubic yards of debris and volcanic ash deposit will be cleaned up, “so the river water can flow at a safe and desired level.”
During his address at the launch, Parliamentary Representative for North Windward, Montgomery Daniel said Taiwan has been assisting St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the rehabilitation and reconstruction work which is critical to the revitalization of the most affected areas, by providing employment. He expressed confidence that through joint efforts, the friendship of Taiwan and St. Vincent and the Grenadines will continue to be strengthened, and that co-operation of this kind will continue to grow from strength to strength in the many years ahead.
All of the waterways in North Windward have seen a reduced capacity to carry runoff water from the mountains as a result of volcanic ash and other debris which accumulated as a result of the eruptions and made worse by lahars which deposited silt, ash, and huge boulders on the river crossings.
After the ceremony, minister Daniel accompanied ambassador Lan and OECC staff, as well as SVG government officials to visit the London River crossing at Sandy Bay.