Another delay for opening of housing project

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The diversion of funds, to include responding to the rebuilding of Barbuda, and repairing many government structures were the latest reasons provided by Chief of Staff Lionel “Max” Hurst to justify the latest delay to opening the government’s housing project at Paynters.

During an interview on OBSERVER AM yesterday, Hurst attributed the delay to a lack of resources to complete the road works, the diversion of money to rebuild Barbuda, and the repairing of government buildings.

Earlier in January, following an update to Cabinet on the progress of work at the three locations — Paynters, Denfields and Dredge Bay — it was revealed that the opening had been delayed due to unfinished roadways. At that time, too, assurances had been given by the Minister of Works, Lennox Weston, that the road works would have intensified at Paynters to facilitate the owners of the completed homes moving in by the second week of February.

“Part of the problem has been APUA’s resources. Again, APUA diverted a lot of its resources to bring Barbuda back to a habitable state and in that time they couldn’t do the things that were required. I refer to the statement made by the Minister of Housing [Hon Maria Bird-Browne] yesterday. She indicated that by the end of March that the first 90 houses in Paynters would be ready for occupancy and then they will go on to the second phase,” Hurst said.

He also speculated on the date for the completion of the Denfields housing project.

“In the case of Denfields, it might be the end of April, so we know that we have to work expeditiously to get those homes into people’s hands.”
Meantime, Hurst said the promised 500 homes will satisfy the demand for housing in Antigua and Barbuda.

“We know that there is a demand for housing and again if you heard [Minister Bird-Browne] yesterday in Parliament, clearly we are going to exceed the 500 limit. We are building additional houses down at Denfields … and although only the first 90 will be available at Paynters they have already been taken. We are going into the second phase by yet another 90,” he said.

In referring to people who are already servicing loans for homes they have not been able to occupy, Hurst said they are making a “national sacrifice” as the government cannot do everything at once.

“It is a national sacrifice. All of us had to sacrifice a little bit in order to help our Barbudan brethren. We are not setting loose Antiguans to fend for themselves. We had to do it.

“We spent a lot of money on fixing up the Nurses hostel — over $1 million — which was [completed by] National Housing as well; [so we couldn’t] do all of them all at the same time.”

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