Officials satisfied with Barbuda re-roofing programme

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Officials from the three entities that were involved in the Antigua and Barbuda China-Aid Post Disaster-Roof Restoration Project have all expressed satisfaction at the completion of the programme ahead of the June 30 deadline.
Prime Minister Gaston Browne, along with Chinese Ambassador Wang Xianmin and his wife, and Stephen O’Malley, the UNDP Resident Representative to Barbados and the OECS, flew into Barbuda on Thursday for the closing ceremony of the project, held at the Barbuda Fisheries Complex. They were accompanied by Dean Jonas, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Barbuda Affairs, Philmore Mullin, Director of the National Office of Disaster Service (NODS) and top aides from the respective entities.
The prime minister, in delivering the keynote address at the ceremony, pointed out that the estimated damage wrought on Barbuda by Hurricane Irma was US $222 million, which is equivalent to 100 percent of the country’s annual revenue.
Stressing that all the plants on Barbuda had been damaged by the hurricane, the prime minister noted that “we are still in recovery mode. So, this notion that the government of Antigua and Barbuda has done nothing and we do not care about the people of Barbuda is not true. In fact, we have made more progress than some of the islands within the region that would have been damaged by the hurricanes and we must be appreciative of the gains that we have made. “
He said people should not look at what has not been completed as yet and use that to create strife, rather, “the reality is, we will target all of the areas as long as the resources become available”.
Stating that he was happy “to participate in the very important ceremony,” the prime minister said that he understands that over 400 level one, level two and level three homes were completed.
He said that when he arrived in Barbuda that morning, he recognised that the landscape had changed for the better in stark contrast to what he saw a few hours after the hurricane had passed last September.
According to him, the entire landscape was brown when he first saw it after the passage of the hurricane and he thought it would have been an extremely daunting task to recover Barbuda.
He said that the government decided to call very friendly governments with whom it had strong bi-lateral relations, and the People’s Republic of China was among the first to respond.
He said the PRC gave the government US $2 million to purchase materials and the government undertook to cover the labour expenses while the UNDP became the executing agency to restore the 400 properties. According to him, the collaboration was remarkable.
O’Malley, who is also the United Nations Resident Coordinator, based in Barbados, said that he was happy to be at the event that marked the completion of the Antigua and Barbuda China-Aid Post-Disaster Roof Restoration Project.
He explained that “on September 28, 2017, just a few weeks after the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Irma, the People’s Republic of China made a very significant commitment to support the repair and restoration of 250 roofs on houses damaged by Hurricane Irma.”
He said the project, under the theme, “building back better”, involved utilising building construction materials and resilience construction materials.
The UNDP official explained that the government of Antigua and Barbuda and the UNDP were able to design a project whereby the materials could be transported to Barbuda and where they could provide the necessary technical assistance.
(More in today’s Daily Observer)

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