Minister of Works wants to take over unfinished housing project

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By Latrishka Thomas

The National Housing project, which was launched in several communities in Antigua and Barbuda shortly after the Antigua Barbuda Labour Party took office in 2014, remains under construction in places like Paynters.

On a tour of that site yesterday, Minister of Works Lennox Weston decided to air his outrage to the media, stating that he was flabbergasted at what he saw.

“You would have heard a couple of weeks ago where Ambassador Hurst made the point that the houses have not been sold because the Ministry of Works has been tardy. Well, we are never tardy in the Ministry of Works.

“We are the top performing ministry in this government so we’ve brought the cameras out so you can see all the roads are in but sadly National Housing continues to be very slow in completing a very important project for the government and I think coming to see that they are so far behind in landscaping, in the finishing work, and they have all excuses I think it’s time for us to publicly say it’s time for the Ministry of Works to take over this project,” Weston said.

Weston was making reference to comments made by Chief of Staff in the Office of the Prime Minister Lionel “Max” Hurst, which imputed that the housing project was delayed due to unfinished roadways.

Weston went on to remind the media that the “National Housing had some difficulty and asked the Ministry of Works to take over responsibility for doing roads.”

He said his ministry has proven itself to be efficient by completing the roads in record time and has the manpower to do the same with the houses.

 “We have the capability of management, we have the energy, we have the aggression, we have the skilled engineers and professions; we can complete this project on time. This nonsense has to stop! We have millions of dollars waiting to come back into the Government Treasury for the next phase and every day we get excuses from National Housing for completing these houses,” Weston said.

Weston also criticised the manager of the housing project for not being present on site to oversee the project.

“I have said to the manager…you should be sitting here every day. I come, I don’t see anybody senior. I see some guys just wandering around. Nobody is here to make sure anything is happening and they are burning cash every day,” he added.

The Public Works minister also admitted to having lapsed in the promise made by the government to complete 500 houses in 500 days but says that “this is more than embarrassing in terms of this slowness from National Housing.”

“We want to deliver these homes to the people who are paying mortgages. They are paying their rent, they are tired…we are calling on the prime minister publicly, we are not even going to Cabinet,” he said.

Weston said that his intention is to cause an uproar in Cabinet next week.

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