‘Problems’ in IDB project
GOVERNMENT DID everything “humanly possible” to execute the Inter-American Development Bank-funded Housing and Neighbourhood Upgrading Programme.
Government Senator Patrick Todd gave this assurance in the Senate yesterday, responding to Opposition complaints the day before that the $60 million project had been mismanaged to the point that Government had been unable to use $47 million because Barbados did not meet conditionalities for the funding.
Todd admitted the project that was meant to improve a number of poor neighbourhoods had faced “technical”, “drainage” and other challenges and Government “had to make some modifications along the way” to ensure Barbados drew down as much of the IDB funding as possible.
He said that despite the problems with the project more than 450 people had benefited from grants of $10 000 each to carry out minor home repairs, including replacing windows and doors, fixing the plumbing and painting, for a total of $4.5 million.
According to Todd, more than $4 million had also been spent connecting city residences to the sewerage system, while some homes had added water-borne toilets. Lines were also laid to connect homes to the natural gas network, Todd reported.
He also spoke of families receiving grants of $10 000 each towards the cost of low-income housing being acquired from the NHC.
The IDB-funded project was meant to improve drainage, sewerage, sanitation, street lighting and road construction for Cat’s Castle, Greenfields and Country Road in Bridgetown as well as Allen View in St Thomas.
Elements of the proposals included “the urban revitalization of two inner city neighbourhoods” – Cat’s Castle and Greenfields – and the improvement of two prototype sites that would launch a national neighbourhood upgrading programme.
Opposition politicians have complained that the four areas had little or nothing to show after the project eventually launched in 2008 ended last year.
Todd charged that despite the complaints being made by the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP), the people of Cat’s Castle and Greenfields would have received a raw deal from the BLP.
He told senators the BLP, which negotiated the loan, had talked of constructing terrace units on Country Road, of relocating the Greenfields and Cat’s Castle residents to those units, then doing some “slum clearance” and returning those people to their neighbourhoods.
However, by 2008, when the BLP lost power, the Country Road site where the units were to be built had already been abandoned, with the exposed foundation steel rusting and weeds everywhere.
It was “more than likely” that today under a BLP Government the people of Cat’s Castle and Greenfields would still be waiting for help, he charged.
Todd made the comments during debate on a resolution to approve the Crown’s compulsory acquisition of a parcel of land at Whitepark Road, close to both Country Road and Greenfields.
He said he and a team from the Ministry of Housing and Lands had been able to identify the land as a site where some of the IDB funds could be utilised before the five-year loan agreement ran out. (TY)