A landslide at Petite Savanne caused by Tropical Storm Erika
By Caribbean News Now contributor
ROSEAU, Dominica -- The government of Dominica is currently in discussion with an international firm for the construction of a new community for Petite Savanne residents who lost their homes during Tropical Storm Erika in August 2015.
Some 823 residents were evacuated from Petite Savanne after the storm, since the entire area was considered unstable, and are presently housed in temporary accommodation. 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,” Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said on local radio. “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.”
“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 added.
According to a source at the housing ministry, who spoke on condition of confidentiality, there is a proposal to develop a modern low/middle income housing community at an affordable cost.
“The proposed development project aims to provide affordable houses that are cheaper to acquire and easier to maintain, especially for residents with low/middle income, senior citizens, single parents, young adults, and individuals who have lost their homes due to Tropical Storm Erika.
“The government has procured the assistance from an international firm to build 500 to 1,000 homes for the people of Dominica and to create a modern community that is integrated both socially and commercially via the creation of public spaces, parks and commercial shops to serve the same community in one neighbourhood.
“It will be the legacy of this government to develop a world-class environment in collaboration with leading building contractors for the development of the project to produce well-designed, sustainable and desirable homes for all,” he explained.
Each residential unit promises significant features such as energy conservation, accessibility to main roads, flexibility, durable concrete structure with superior quality, enhanced finishing and durability in any kind of climate conditions.
“The project is a reflection of Prime Minister Skerrit’s vision for providing an affordable and sustainable housing solution before the end of his current term in office,” the source noted.
The new project is separate and apart from the 300 ‘petrocasas’ promised to Dominica by Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro in September 2015, the first 50 of which arrived on the island on October 20, 2015. The houses will be used to relocate residents of Dubique to an area in Grand Bay.
Although Skerrit has expressed confidence in Venezuela’s continued ability to supply and construct the new homes, many regional commentators believe that an imminent collapse of that country’s economy will cut off such aid to Dominica as well as other Caribbean governments.
According to the International Crisis Group, Venezuela “is very near political and economic implosion and… a collapse that would bring instability to the region”.