Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit has revealed that the government have engaged an international firm to prepare a settlement plan for Petite Savanne residents who were displaced after the passage of Tropical Storm Erika.
The Prime Minister made that announcement while speaking as a guest on Kairi’s Heng Programme recently.
About 823 residents were evacuated from Petite Savanne after the storm since the area was deemed unsafe and presently some are being housed at Guest Houses and others reside with family members. It was recently revealed that the residents will be relocated to the Bellevue Chopin area.
“We have acquired the lands, we have done sub-divisions and what we have done is to engage an international firm to prepare a plan for us, a settlement plan,” Skerrit said. “What we want to do is not just put down houses – if it was to put down houses then we would have started constructing houses for the Petite Savanne people – but we want to ensure that we create a community. This is why we thought it was necessary to bring in people with that kind of expertise to review the plans that we already have.”
According to Skerrit, a tree count was done to protect the environment.
“We had to do a tree count because we are not going to be cutting down these trees indiscriminately,” he stated. “Trees which do not need to be cut and trees which we can save that are hundreds of years old we have to save, because we have to protect the environment, so all these things are being taken into consideration.”
He indicated that the issue of water, electricity, the connection of lines, playing facilities, businesses and community centre are also taken into consideration in the new Petite Savanne.
“Work is going on with speed, we have commitments for some of the houses and the government itself is prepared to make resources available to fill the gaps where gaps are recognized,” he said.
In September 2015, Venezuelan President, Nicolás Maduro symbolically hand over 300 ‘petrocasas’ to Dominica. And on Tuesday 20, October 2015 the first 50 arrived on the island.
The houses will be used to relocate residents of Dubique to an area in Grand Bay. The Prime Minister said some of the residents should move in by Easter.
“When I went there in January we had about 26 platforms constructed with several of them, the panels are up and we have started constructing the roof for those …some of them we started tiling” he explained. “What we are trying to push is to have some people moved in either before Easter or by Easter. We also have another 50 houses here in containers and I believe that the Venezuelans will sign a contract with a company out of Venezuela to build 100 homes.”
He stated further that government owns several pieces of land in an area between Colihaut and Bioche and will be constructing some houses there so that residents of Colihaut will also benefit.
Meantime; Parliamentary Representative for the Petite Savanne constituency, Dr. Kenneth Darroux said that government has made progress in addressing the needs of Dominicans affected by Erika.
“We as a government, we have not been asleep and we would have responded to the people needs in a very meaningful way and I think by and large the majority of the displaced people would appreciate the effort that the government has made to-date in addressing a lot of their needs,” he said on the radio program, ‘Focus on Government and Development.’
Dr. Darroux explained that he was in discussion with an individual recently and noted that, “People need to understand that the government really is not an insurance company in terms of compensating people for loss of anything.”
“This government has pride itself on its humanitarian characteristics and I think this is the Hallmark of this administration,” he stated.