Dredge Bay Update: Keys given, homes vacant

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Work has recommenced at the site of the government of Antigua & Barbuda’s affordable Dredge Bay homes now that the pomp and ceremony of the grand hand-over of keys to the incomplete homes has passed.
When OBSERVER media visited the site yesterday, it appeared that nobody had taken up residence in any of 48 state-subsidised homes built by the National Housing & Urban Renewal Company (NHURC) in the prime minister’s constituency.
When asked to confirm if anyone had indeed moved in, the executive director of the NHURC Bernard Gardner declined to comment and advised that the question would be better directed to the Public Relations Officer in the Ministry of Works & Housing.
However, the site was far from deserted, as contractors of every trade continued to apply the “finishing touches” to the Dredge Bay homes, most saying that their deadline for completion was the end of July.
Gardner, who was speaking to OBSERVER media via phone yesterday, declined to confirm what, if any, completion dates the NHURC had established with its workers and contractors.
According to the government’s Chief of Staff Lionel “Max” Hurst the main hurdle to be overcome is the fact that “the sewage system is not yet completely functional”.
Speaking on OBSERVER radio yesterday, Hurst said that none of the 48 homes have septic tanks or ‘soakaways’ because the “modern” design of the project favoured a “central sewage system” which he admitted “must be in working condition before anyone can move in”.
His statement was corroborated by the statements of workmen on the site. OBSERVER media encountered two painters in one of the homes, rolling the walls in a slightly off-white coat – one of whom said, “I believe that [the sewage] is more or less the reason why nothing is being issued to the owners.”
The painter also said that the installation of solar panels was being completed. A mason encountered in another one of the homes said he was working on “the flex and the body wall and putting down some mortar”. A plumber said, “I’ve been running the piping out from the kitchens and the bathrooms.”
A member of a cohort of workers that were moving topsoil with heavy equipment and with rakes said, “We’re doing landscaping – to make the place look uniform. We’re trying to finish this section this week,” and added that landscaping the entire project should be finished “by the end of the month”.
(More in today’s Daily Observer)

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