November 23, 2010
Building materials arrive from Jamaica

The offloading of the vessel, Jummetor, which brought the largest shipment ever of building materials for the state, has begun.{{more}}

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, at a press conference on Friday, November 19, announced that the offloading had commenced that same day at Port Kingstown and is expected to last for a week.

The building supplies were provided by Tank-Weld Metals, the leader in the steel and lumber industry in Jamaica.

The shipment, which contains a quantity of building supplies valued EC$5.5 million, includes close to 70,000 sheets of galvanized iron, 6,000 sheets of plywood, 435 bundles of different kinds of lumber (ridging, laths, and fascia boards), 840 palettes of cement, a quantity of ridging caps and other roof items, 180 bundles of various types of steel and 1,000 pieces of different steel sections, several containers loaded with building materials and 50 empty 40ft containers, one of which the Housing and Land Development Corporation (HLDC) will place in each constituency to facilitate the easy distribution of materials.

“It’s a big venture; I’ve been advised that this is the largest shipment of building materials that has ever come to our shore at one time,” Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves said.

He said his administration started the housing repair and reconstruction programme on Monday, November 1, after the passage of the hurricane.

Prime Minister Gonsalves said on that morning his Government received credit and made purchases of EC$1 million in construction materials. Since then another EC$1 million worth of material has been purchased, said Gonsalves.

“In fact, from the first Monday evening, materials were being distributed,” the Prime Minister said, adding “we had to move swiftly because we had a lot of people in the schools and we had to get the people out of the schools whose houses were damaged and destroyed.”

Gonsalves also announced that the HLDC started a new initiative last week when it commenced registration of carpenters, artisans, and community village contractors to carry out the work.

“The work has actually commenced with these workmen and contractors,” said Gonsalves.

He disclosed that the contractors will not be receiving contracts to repair or build five or 10 houses because that will take too much time.

Those recruited to do supervision and the workmen will be paid a daily salary to spread over the extent of the work, he contended.

“We have to get the houses up and running for people and to put them in relative comfort,” said Gonsalves.

The Prime Minister disclosed that a list of the materials was reviewed by the HLDC and was discovered to be 15 per cent cheaper than materials from other outlets in this region.

Additionally, the Government was granted a 90-day period to make payments.

“I assure everyone that all the arrangements for accountability, transparency are involved in the process and the public officials in the Housing and Land Development Corporation are working on these matters.

“I want to emphasize again and reassure our people and the whole world for that matter, that there is absolutely no discrimination on the basis of politics in the distribution of any material or food,” said Gonsalves.

Besides the distribution of materials and food to 1,200 to 1,500 people, Gonsalves said fertilizer was distributed to farmers, as well as $400 per acre of land to assist farmers with labour. Assessment is also being carried out to provide income support to farmers, the Prime Minister disclosed.

He reiterated that no politician in his administration is involved in the distribution of food.

“This Government is not going to be engaged in any politics with the distribution of food. If anybody does that, they’re doing that not in the name of the Government. If anybody on the ground is doing it and it is drawn to my attention, I can assure you that such a person will be swiftly removed from any system of distribution,” said Gonsalves.

He said in the political climate there will be allegations of such happenings, but that does not mean that an allegation is true. (HN)