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PM: Recovery and reconstruction efforts proceeding satisfactorily

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Clean up operations in the country are progressing well.

This assessment was made by Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, Minister of Disaster Preparedness, as he spoke of the progression of the recovery efforts one week after the passing of Hurricane Tomas.{{more}}

“At a period of challenge, we have done so far commendably well,” Gonsalves said yesterday while delivering remarks at the Campden Park Port. He added that the relevant authorities were handling the recovery and reconstruction efforts satisfactorily.

The Prime Minister said that despite the challenges brought on following the passage of the storm, coupled with the recent global economic fallout, the Vincentian people were being “resolute and resilient.”

“We are not saying that what we ended up with is perfection, but it is something close to,” Gonsalves said.

Gonsalves expressed satisfaction in the work of the utility companies, namely VINLEC and the Central Water and Sewerage Authority (CWSA).

“As we know, electricity and water was down, but VINLEC moved swiftly to address the issue in Kingstown and some other areas,” Gonsalves said.

Kingstown was one of the areas that received immediate attention and by Friday of last week, the majority of consumers had power and water services restored.

Gonsalves also addressed the issue of blocked roads saying that the Bridges, Roads and General Services Authority (BRAGSA), with the assistance of members of various communities started working the day after the passage of the storm to ensure that the majority of the main roads were cleared.

“Few secondary roads still needed to be cleared and all the roads within two to three days were completely cleared,” he said.

The Prime Minister added that $2 million was dispersed to BRAGSA last week and that more will be distributed to assist with the road clean up.

Over 90 per cent of schools in the country were reopened yesterday (Monday) the Prime Minister said. The Primary and the Technical schools at Georgetown which had been damaged during the hurricane remained closed.

The same was expected at the Troumaca-Ontario secondary school which was also damaged.

But Gonsalves said that it was expected that these schools should be operational in another week or so.

He addressed those persons whose homes had been destroyed, stating that the task of feeding and clothing 1,200 persons was no easy feat. However, Gonsalves said that the relevant authorities had “been able to carry out this exercise successfully.”

Rebuilding efforts have started with the Housing and Land Development Corporation (HLDC) distributing supplies.

Gonsalves added that the registration of workers to work on homes destroyed in the northern regions of the island was expected to begin this week.

In relation to agriculture, Gonsalves said priority will be given to banana and plantain farmers and that a list of affected persons was expected to be sent to him.

He added that these farmers would get fertilizer and a financial sum to aid in the replanting process.

“Now you may ask whether or not there were hiccups and of course there were hiccups,” Gonsalves said.

“It’s going to take a long time and it’s going to take a lot of work,” he further stated.

“We are being held together in unity by a common purpose, even when there is political competition and even when some unfortunate things are being said politically.

“The people’s unity for recovery will not be undermined at this particular point and time.They are looking to the government and the government has demonstrated empathy,” Gonsalves said.

He ended his remarks by stating that the government was expected to follow up on calls made to international agencies and countries for further assistance. (DD)