Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, has said that the resettlement project at Bellevue Chopin for Petite Savanne residents who were displaced by Tropical Storm Erika in 2015, was built with a sense of community in mind.
The prime minister was speaking at the handing over of the first 38 residential units on Friday, December 7, 2018.
“We did not want to just build buildings, homes, what we call homes. We wanted to build a community, to make you feel part of a community. Now, we didn’t just take you from Petite Savanne and put you somewhere in a house; you can’t turn left, you can’t right,” Skerrit said.
He said a number of factors were taken into consideration in designing the homes.
“Recognizing that in Petite Savanne, there are children who are taking care of their parents. So, we built duplexes, so, the children upstairs, the parents downstairs. You see what I’m talking about and to do this, you have to know your people because we were building for people who we know,” the prime minister explained.
He continued, “A brand new health centre will be constructed with nurses quarters, a basketball court, a playground for the children, a brand new playing field, a market for the sale of fresh produce, agricultural produce and a massive commercial plaza where the barber and the coiffeurs, you know, the hair stylists, the supermarkets, all can have their businesses and take advantage of the economy and the opportunities here.”
Skerrit disclosed that an additional 130 residential units are expected to be handed over in January 2019 with another 34 in February and 81 more in April. He said the final 80 will be handed over in June bringing the total to 353 housing units in the Petite Savanne Resettlement Project.
The project, which will cost in excess of $100 million dollars, is being constructed by Montreal Management Consultants Est. (MMCE) Ltd of Canada.
Skerrit said the project is being financed entirely by The Citizenship By Investment Programme (CBI), however, the developer provided the funding upfront to start the project.
“He assisted us in paying for the lands and he signed contracts and started work and we did not pay him one dollar not until after about 10 months after the project started,” Skerrit revealed.
He thanked Dr. Haiden and MMCE for their “great partnership.”
Dr. Haiden had said in a release issued by MMCE in June 2017, that MMCE was developing the community without the use of any of CBI money prior to completion, describing it as a “calculated risk”.
“Our plan is to recover the costs via our own direct sales of citizen by investment cases via our firms. We were the only company that had the initiative, guts and resolve to front the money for this project,” he said.
He gave the assurance that MMCE “will continue and complete the project irrelevant of any sales secured.”
Haiden also said then that the government of Dominica carries no risks “as it would render CBI concession upon the full completion of phases of the project.”
Prime Minister Skerrit exhorted the beneficiaries of the residential units to care for them.
“It is not because you are not paying for them, you must not appreciate them like you went to the bank and get a loan to do so. I want you to care for them.”
He revealed that the government intends to build a similar project for Grand Bay residents, comprising 68 residential units, on state lands located close to the Pierre Charles Secondary School.
“That housing development that will commence very soon opposite the Pierre Charles Secondary School, will be called the Nurse Charles Housing Development,” Skerrit declared.