January 24, 2014
12 areas identified as priority in recovery, reconstruction process

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves has identified twelve areas that he says make up the priority list of actions still to be taken as part of the recovery and reconstruction process in the aftermath of the December floods.{{more}}

“The Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines is mobilising resources, financial and technical, for the grand rehabilitation and recovery project,” the Prime Minister explained.

“To this end, we have been in contact with the governments of several traditional and non-traditional allies. Importantly, too, my Government has been engaged in relevant dialogue on rehabilitation and recovery with the local financial institutions and contractors from St Vincent and the Grenadines and the region, the World Bank, the European Union, the Caribbean Development Bank, the ALBA-Petro Caribe nexus, UNDP, the OAS, ECLAC, PAHO, ILO, the OECS and CARICOM,” he continued.

Gonsalves said that nearly 80 per cent of the damage and loss is in physical infrastructure.

“Clearly the recovery and reconstruction programme has to be phased. In this regard, the various Ministries are at work in planning the work programme for implementation over time,” he said.

The Chief Engineer has already provided the Prime Minister with a preliminary list of “must do” projects.

Included in the priority list are the repair and reconstruction to damaged and destroyed houses and the relocation of houses which are in imminent danger. The provision of household appliances and items including stoves, refrigerators and mattresses to affected persons; completing the clean-up process by BRAGSA and rebuilding with urgency, destroyed or damaged bridges around the country, are also included, Gonsalves said

The construction of river defences at a number of locations the prompt reviewing for speedy corrective work on pre-existing projects have also been identified by the Prime Minister. Among those to begin receiving immediate restorative work are the Buccament – Vermont river defence, river defences in Spring, and the playing field wall at Sandy Bay.

Gonsalves said that the immediate grading and basic restorative work on several miles of feeder roads, particularly those in the North Windward, North Central Windward and North and South Leeward areas have been identified; and the prompt basic restoration of village and secondary roads in all affected areas are to be tended to.

The remaining areas of priority as highlighted by the Prime Minister include: addressing immediately the rebuilding of the agriculture and livestock sub-sectors in the affected areas; the initiation of measures for reforestation and curbing irresponsible behavior of forest users; the swift repair of the damage at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital, Central Water and Sewerage Authority and VINLEC and to assist damaged private sector businesses in their rebuilding.

According to Gonsalves, his government has been active and focused in providing leadership to the recovery and rehabilitation process.

“Immediately we have had to address the humanitarian relief challenge and remediation, however makeshift or temporary, of the physical infrastructure,” he said.

“At the same time, we have to lay the basis for the very costly medium-term recovery and rehabilitation,” Gonsalves continued.

He said that it was this swift and focused response by all involved, including the Government, state agencies, the private sector, civil society organizations, regional and international communities, the Vincentian diaspora and the resilient people who ensured that the immediate humanitarian relief challenge did not metamorphose into a humanitarian disaster.

Gonsalves outlined some of the work that had already been done: VINLEC restored electricity throughout the country; the E.T Joshua Airport and the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital were reopened due to the prompt remedial work; within three hours of the torrential rains, eight of the eleven water systems of CWSA were put out of commission and according to the Prime Minister, the heroic efforts of management, staff and ancillary employees at CWSA ensured the resumption of the water supply; and the National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO) established eight shelters with over 300 occupants. (DD)