By Elesha George
This week’s torrential rains have left the government footing an EC$163M bill to repair roadways and bridges across the country.
On Thursday, the Minister of Public Works reportedly estimated that a minimum of EC$20M would be required to repair infrastructure that was severely impacted by the torrents of rain.
The amount currently being quoted from a preliminary assessment is five times more than the EC$31.8M that the government has currently sourced between the World Bank’s CRIF (Catastrophic Risk Insurance Facility) fund and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), which is expected to provide supplementary funds.
Information Minister, Melford Nicholas, told a special Cabinet briefing on Friday that the government will be responsible for funding those repairs, but that it could not give a timeline on when repairs will be completed because of the amount of money needed.
“I don’t think we’re going to be in a position to raise funds from any bilateral or any supporting agencies. This is going to be on us,” Nicholas said.
Faced with falling revenue amidst a global pandemic, the government is hoping that a turnaround in economic activity will help fund those repairs.
“If we’re able to get to a situation where our economy returns to a degree of buoyancy, any surpluses that are created from that resurged economy, will be redeployed back into our own development. What we have to do is when we build back, we build back stronger,” the minister declared.
Meanwhile, the National Office of Disaster Services (NODS) has reported that 215 homes were impacted by flooding, but the Minister Nicholas said that that number is likely to increase.
“The number is expected to rise significantly beyond 215,” he said, estimating a figure of around 500 homes island-wide.
Assistance for households has been categorised in three levels: level 1 – homes requiring the least amount of interventions; level 2 – replacement of furniture; and level 3 – repairing cupboards and doors etc… The government says it will take on the cost of repairs utilising an EC$5M loan from the Caribbean Union Bank (CUB).
Constituency representatives are expected to work alongside the National Office of Disaster Services to help gather information that will be used to conduct further assessment of the damage.
Work on roads and households began as early as Friday and is expected to continue for as long as the problems exist.