Caribbean News

Minister of Works puts government buildings reconstruction post hurricanes at $8.6m

Dee and Goldray

PROVIDENCIALES, Turks and Caicos – October 26, 2017 – It will take nearly $9m to reconstruct government buildings and offices alone and the body of work is significant according to the Minister of Infrastructure, Housing and Planning, Hon Goldray Ewing.

In a one on one with the Minister Wednesday, it was explained that if the body of work were rated on a scale of one to ten, with ten being hardest – the job ahead for the Ministry would earn a ‘nine’.

“Irma was a category five plus (storm), never before have we had one of them and never before have we had a storm right after that, at a category three; this set a precedent for what the Turks and Caicos could handle.  And as bad as they were and as bad as the damage is, we handled both pretty well,” shared Minister Ewing.

The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) post-Irma report exposed that there were levels of damage ranging from one to four, four being most severely impacted and that the damages were to nearly 80% of buildings, including homes across the country.

Magnetic Media spoke to the Minister outside of Oseta Jolly Primary and Clement Howell High schools both in his constituency of Blue Hills on Wednesday; these were among the five worst hit public schools.  The others named were Marjorie Basden High and Iris Stubbs Primary in South Caicos and the Eliza Simmons Primary School in Grand Turk.

“The two schools in South Caicos will run us into $1.2m to repair,” said the Minister.

The Public Works team was praised by Minister Ewing, who shared that the assessments and costing of the repairs and the reconstruction was done within two weeks following the catastrophic Category 5 hurricane Irma.  A commendable feat, though many are still concerned because work has yet to begin.  On the day we were near the storm ravaged schools, there was no one working at either Oseta Jolly or Clement Howell High.

“I want to say a big thanks to my staff, honestly.  They jumped into the process of doing assessments right away.  They had some help from the British Army Corps of engineers but we worked as a team and we got the assessments done in record time, the costing done in record time and there is nothing to stop us from building the schools, hospitals and clinics but schools are priority right now.”

Minister Ewing said it will take patience from the public as the procurement process is both tedious and necessary to not only ensure the work can be done by a reputable contractor in good standing with Government but that the money is there to pay for the work.

The Turks and Caicos Islands was paid a claim of $13.6m by the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility or CCRIF but still outstanding is the actual cost of the storm to the islands. The Premier, Hon Sharlene Robinson has advised that this will be done by the UN ECLAC (Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean); their team arrives in early November.

Still, there is strong demand from the general public to get moving on rebuilding and rebounding and that includes input from the Opposition, Progressive National Party.  Former Finance Minister and leader of Opposition business in the House of Assembly, Hon Washington Misick has been vocal and put the cost to the country figure at $250m; that was back in September.

Mr. Misick’s ‘cost’ though is being called a conservative estimate as more people place the bill from Irma at closer to half a billion dollars.

Still, even at the rate quoted by Hon Misick, it is worth noting that the expense to clean up, fix up, build up and fully stand up after the back to back September hurricanes of 2017 would in perspective, take nearly the entire national budget.

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