Fifty Vincentian families who suffered severe losses during the April, 2021 volcanic eruptions, are to receive prefabricated timber houses which the government will be importing from Guyana.
Confirmation of this was made by Prime Minister, Dr Ralph Gonsalves, who is wrapping up a four day visit to the South American country today, Friday, January 5.
In a call to NBC radio from Guyana on Wednesday, January 4, the Prime Minister indicated that the 50 houses will be purchased through a financing arrangement with the Demerara Bank in Guyana.
This comes after a visit to Guyana by a delegation which was headed by Deputy Prime Minister, Montgomery Daniel, in October last year.
The houses are being sourced from Dura Villa Homes in Guyana in one, two, and three bedroom specifications.
On Wednesday, Gonsalves outlined further details indicating that the one bedroom house is 333 square feet; the two bedroom is 526 square feet; and the three bedroom is 776 square feet.
“They are laid out beautifully, and the idea is to have them, certainly, grounded in the concrete- in the cement- so that we can have, perhaps, category four hurricane resilient.”
Elaborating further, the Prime Minister said “ they are beautifully designed, I think people are going to love them.”
Inclusive of freight, the government is importing the houses at $US 16,900 for the one bedroom house; over $US 25,000 for a two bedroom house; and approximately $US 37,800 for a three bedroom house.
The Prime Minister said these prices are “pretty good.”
Responding to fears about the durability of these timber houses, Gonsalves reminded that some of the colonial houses which were built from green heart wood, have stood the test of time.
He said the houses would cost about $EC 6 million ($US 2.2 million), through a seven year loan from the Demerara bank in Guyana, at an interest rate of 5%.
He added that representatives from the bank in Guyana will be visiting St Vincent and the Grenadines later this month to see the sites where the houses will be placed.
Sites earmarked for the houses from Guyana are in the constituencies of North Windward, North Central Windward and North Leeward, which are the areas that were mainly affected by the volcanic eruptions.
The 50 houses are expected to be in St Vincent and the Grenadines by the end of March.
Describing the houses as very beautiful, the prime minister said after these arrive here, he expects the demand would grow.
“I believe that when people see them, that we are going to have a big demand.”
With this in mind, arrangements will be made for more houses from Guyana, and will be provided as low income houses through the Housing and Land Development Corporation, the Prime Minister explained.
Since the 2021 eruption of la Soufriere volcano, the government has repaired or rebuilt around 900 homes for Vincentian families who were in distress.
Close to two thousand homes here suffered varying levels of damage during the eruptions.
So far, the government has already given out 27 new houses at Orange Hill, and another 21 houses are under construction also at Orange Hill, with assistance from the Mustique Charitable Foundation.
The Government has decided to bear the cost of repairing and rebuilding the properties that were damaged or destroyed during the volcanic eruptions.
“So much so that even persons who were not damaged by the volcano, they have the expectation… that government would build them a free house,” the Prime Minister said.
He pointed out that the government is unable to build a free house for everybody, as it does not have a bottomless pit of money.
Gonsalves travelled to Guyana on Monday afternoon after he and other leaders attended the inauguration of President, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in Brazil on Sunday, January 1.
He travelled on the same flight with the President of Guyana, Dr Irfaan Ali, who had also attended the presidential inauguration in Brazil.
According to information from the Department of Public Information in Guyana, while there, Prime Minister Gonsalves visited a low income housing project, and also made a visit to the Dura Villas unit in Demerara.
The official delegation was headed by Housing and Water Minister, Collin Croal, and also included Guyana’s Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, Nigel Dharamlall.
During the tour in Guyana on Tuesday, January 3, Gonsalves said “I was very impressed with the project which the government of Guyana is involved in building low income houses.”
Having seen the area where the houses are being built, Gonsalves said he thinks the development is “an excellent initiative by President Ali and his government.”
He told the Guyana press that his government has been engaged in the construction of low income, middle income, and no income houses in St Vincent and the Grenadines.