On Tuesday, March 6th, 2018, contractor David Tuitt of DarJav INC.Â signed contracts to construct four emergency social houses, one in Lookout and
three in Davy Hill. Over two years ago, the homes of at least two of the beneficiariesÂ were demolished in preparation for construction.
Currently, there are 290 persons on the Waiting List for social houses many ofÂ whom have been displaced by the 1995 volcanic eruptions. This DFID-fundedÂ Social Housing Project – Phase 1, targets the delivery of seven houses to those inÂ critical need.
The award of contract for the construction of four two-bedroom houses signalsÂ hope, as negotiations continue for the remaining 40 households on the WaitingÂ List, for solutions under the New Direct Build Housing Project. The PermanentÂ Secretary (Ag), Mrs. Eulyn Silcott-Greaves, in her remarks at the Contract SigningÂ Â Ceremony gave an overview of the housing needs in Montserrat. Mrs. Silcott-Greaves noted that these households are vulnerable based on their age,Â employment status and total household income. On the Waiting List are 10Â applicants who own land and are seeking assistance to build a house at full cost toÂ Government, the vulnerability indicators for this subgrouping reveal: their averageÂ age is 57 years and average monthly income is EC$1,872.83 with average household size ofÂ three. In addition, there are 34 applicants for social rented housing and their averageÂ age is 45 years with average household income of EC$1,397.61. These statisticsÂ underscore the need for Governmentâ€™s continued intervention to improve accessÂ to decent and affordable housing.
The journey to this milestone has been punctuated with challenges and manyÂ lessons have been learnt along the way. Through effective communication andÂ partnership working, we have been able to reach the implementation phase of thisÂ construction project. We have had to address several administrative hurdles,Â mainly securing approval of the designs and empowering the Project SteeringÂ Committee. The Project Steering Committee is comprised of representatives fromÂ the Ministry of Finance, the Public Works Department and the Ministry withÂ responsibility for housing.
After several versions, we have agreed upon a design that is earthquake andÂ hurricane resilient.
Senior Architect for the Government of Montserrat, Linda Dias,Â in her remarks at the Contract Signing Ceremony, noted that these houses areÂ being built above the specifications and standards, of Montserratâ€™s current buildingÂ codes, in an effort to ensure, that the houses are earthquake and hurricaneÂ resilient.
Honourable Minister with responsibility for housing, David Osborne, shared someÂ of the challenges that he encountered during his quest to reach this stage of projectÂ implementation. Minister Osborne gave this project his full support and withÂ determination was able to negotiate the way forward with buy-in from DFID. In hisÂ brief remarks, Minister Osborne, who took office in September of 2017, applaudedÂ the efforts of his â€œA Teamâ€ and gave commendations to the Architecture DivisionÂ of the Ministry of Communications, Works, Labour and Energy, for their hard workÂ and dedication in ensuring the success of the project. Minister Osborne said thatÂ notwithstanding the challenges he encountered, he was determined to deliver theÂ houses to the people, who have been waiting for over four years to be adequatelyÂ housed, therefore he could not lose focus.
Manager of the Land Development Authority (LDA), Franklyn Greenaway,Â confirmed Minister Osborneâ€™s passion to get the houses done and said that in hisÂ first meeting with him in September of 2017, Minister Osborne madeÂ it clear that his priority was to ensure that the houses were built and in a timelyÂ manner.
Local Representative for DFID, Ms. Moira Marshall, was present at the ceremonyÂ and applauded the accomplishment, indicating that the momentous occasion wasÂ a Government of Montserrat effort and that DFID is pleased to be a part of it.Â Minister Osborne told Mrs. Marshall, that she should expect more proposals fromÂ his Ministry,Â for housing, especially since Montserrat continues to face many criticalÂ housing needs, which must be met.
Contractor David Tuitt commended the efforts of Minster Osborne, stating that theÂ implementation of continuous housing projects, will prove beneficial to not onlyÂ him, but to the people of Montserrat, especially since well needed jobs will beÂ provided.
In closing, Minister Osborne affirmed his commitment to improve the livingÂ conditions of the â€˜hisâ€™ people, and pledged to advance the construction of newÂ houses as well as provide support to improve and upgrade the existing housingÂ stock as he leads his ministry to fulfil his governmentâ€™s promise of job creation andÂ â€œputting people firstâ€.