Housing Minister, Reginald Austrie, has revealed the project to relocate residents of Petite Savanne to Bellevue Chopin has commenced while praising Venezuela for assisting Dominica after the passage of Tropical Storm Erika.
Addressing residents of the community on Monday evening, Austrie said the project will be done in two phases. Works on the first phase have already started while the balance will be handled by the MCCE Group, which, he said, will develop “a town” at the location.
“The housing will be basically in two phases,” he explained. “On the lowers slopes we will be putting another 50 Petrocasas. Work on that has started, we have done the foundations, around 12, and works have started on that.”
Austrie pointed out that a number of factors had to be taken into consideration in the project since the area was a forest.
“It was a forest and we had to do the clearing, we had to do the designs, we had to do the surveys, we had to do the layouts…” he noted.
He said that because of Venezuela, the government didn’t have to worry about financing “because not only did they give us the houses but they also provided monies for the labour and the concrete foundation on which these houses are built.”
“So we must thank the Venezuelan government because, in a situation where they have their own challenges, and we all watch our television sets, we all watch the news, we listen to the news, they have tremendous challenges and their challenges did not happen after Erika, the challenges were there before Erika, and yet still they could find 300 Petrocasas, valued at over $30-million to give to the government of Dominica as a gift and the most we can do is to give thanks to that, to appreciate it and to pray for the good fortunes of the Venezuelan people and the Venezuelan government.”
Austrie stated that the balance of the project will be handled by the MCCE Group. The government and the company signed a contract for the relocation project in July 2016.
“That’s a company that is coming in to assist us in developing a town in Bellevue Chopin and the designs and the layout of the community represents a town,” he stated.
He said the company will be constructing two-bedroom units, three-bedroom units, and four-bedroom units for the residents for Petite Savanne.
Furthermore, he stated that provisions are being made for a commercial area at the location.
“For those of you who are worried by employment, 24 of those units will be for commercial areas, for small retail shops, for the barbers, for the hairdressers for the bakeries, for the pharmacies, that will be provided for as part of development,” Austrie noted.
He also spoke of the provision of water to the area.
“Before Erika there was a program by the BNTF to improve the water in Bellevue Chopin by a 30,000-gallon tank,” Austrie explained. “With the coming of new development, the developers, along with DOWASCO, are seeking to develop an additional 100,000 gallons tank that will ensure adequate and sufficient water for the entire community of Bellevue, Petite Savanne as to what now exists and the intention is that water will be pumped from the Pichelin River.”
Petite Savanne was evacuated after Erika after authorities deemed the area unsafe.