The Director of The National Office of Disaster Services, Mr. Philmore Mullin was invited to Cabinet on Wednesday to speak about the progress that is being made to ensure that all Barbudans who are currently occupying emergency shelters in Antigua can return home to Barbuda before the Christmas season as it costs the government some $45,400 daily to meet the needs of the Barbudans who were forced to evacuate following Hurricane Irma.
Mr. Mullin reported that the Government infrastructure in Barbuda are being repaired and says the airport and the fence, the Hospital, the Fisheries Complex and the Community Center are all being worked on.
Almost 100 workers are now stationed on Barbuda, making repairs and more living space will have to be created for additional workers that will be hired from Antigua to ensure a faster completion of the government infrastructure, they will also assist with repairing homes deemed slightly damaged.
It was noted that the People’s Republic of China and India contributed US$2,000,000 and US$1,000,000 respectively to the UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) in order to enable repairs to roofs and buildings in Barbuda.
Mr. Mullin says currently, APUA is working to bring a continuous supply of electricity and potable water to Codrington and the target date for potable water to be available is next week. APUA is in the process of planting electrical poles in Codrington to ensure electricity from the power plant is being fed to buildings whose repairs are completed and those to be repaired shortly.
Mulling also said the displaced Barbudans now occupying the shelters will be moved into two more homely living spaces that are currently being prepared for them.
During the cabinet discussion it was noted that $1.1 million dollars was provided to the Barbuda Council last week in order to meet the salaries and wages of its employees for one month.
The Cabinet pledged its continued support until the evacuees are able to return, even to a new shelter to be constructed on Barbuda.
Mr. Mulling says NODS is aiming to have the Sir McChesney George School building repaired and readied for resumption of classes, for both primary and secondary students, in January 2018 and school hours are to be staggered for both groups of students in order to ensure attendance by students in Barbuda.
A new primary school is to be built by the Dominican Republic as a gift to Antigua and Barbuda. The start and end date for construction of this school has not yet been agreed-to, however drawings have been dispatched from the Dominican Republic.