ST GEORGE’S, Grenada — The Chinese government has agreed to fund the final phase of work on 350 housing units already built in Grenada.
An agreement to this effect was signed on Friday between Housing Minister Delma Thomas and China’s charge d’affaires to Grenada, Chen Robio.
The estimated cost to complete the first phase is about EC$3.6 million.
“Immediately upon taking office in February as the minister of housing, one of my main and urgent goals was to ensure that scores of Grenadians — the many who so badly need better housing — get into those houses in the shortest possible time,” Thomas said in a public signing ceremony on Friday. “I immediately contacted the Chinese embassy here on the issue of the assistance of the People’s Republic of China to help complete the project.”
The units were among 2,000 promised by Beijing after Hurricane Ivan battered the island in 2004 and destroyed 90 percent of the island’s housing stock.
Under the original arrangement, the Grenada government was supposed to have provided counterpart financing to cover the cost of electrical installations, sewerage, and water.
However the first 350 housing units were completed but the additional facilities needed were not included.
“We were fully aware that the Chinese government had up to that point done their part of the bargain,” the housing minister said. “They had done everything we had asked of them.”
In 2012, a total of 351 units were constructed under phase 1, in the residential areas of Frequente and Mt Gay, St George’s and Soubise St Andrew’s.
However, due to varying issues surrounding the sewage system, those units are still to be connected to water or sewer mains
“By coming forward, the assistance of the People’s Republic of China has — in a way — taken our feet from the fire,” Thomas explained. “It is our considered view that the people expect us to deliver on the issue of proper housing in the shortest possible time. Those houses were not built just to sit there as ornaments, but for use by real people who need them the most.”
A technical team from China is expected in the country soon to begin work on the final phase.