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CDB approves US$11 million loan for SVG to upgrade roads, bridges, river defences

CDB approves US$11 million loan for SVG to upgrade roads, bridges, river defences


St Vincent and the Grenadines has had a number of natural disasters, including hurricanes, landslides, floods and droughts and therefore needs to put things in place to mitigate against these dangerous natural occurrences.

With this in mind, on Wednesday at the Beachcombers Hotel in Villa, {{more}}Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves and President of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) Dr Warren Smith signed a loan agreement during a board meeting of the CDBthat allows this country to access a package of loans and grants of US$11.435 million.

The package includes a loan of US$11.3 million for the upgrade of roads, bridges and river defences and slope stabilisation; a grant of US$175,000 for financing the cost of consultancy services for technical assistance for the enhancement of National Early Warning System (NEWS); and a grant of US$60,000 for financing the cost of consultancy services for monitoring and evaluation.

A grant for enhancing capacity in the area of technical vocation and educational training to advance the CVQ (Caribbean Vocational Qualification) of US$212,520 was also given.

The money was approved by the Board of Directors of the CDB to finance a project to reduce the vulnerability to extreme rainfall and other climate change impacts of over 21,000 people living in communities in Georgetown, Bridgetown and Marriaqua.

It was noted after the signing that this project is expected to reduce the vulnerability of the communities by adopting a proactive approach to reducing risk through the upgrading of road sections and bridge structures at critical locations and the upgrading and reconstruction of road sections to increase alternate routes for climate change adaptation.

In total, three bridges will be upgraded or reconstructed; 3.2 km of roads will be built or upgraded and defence work will be carried out on over 708 metres of river bank.

There will also be institutional strengthening with respect to monitoring and evaluation and building Disaster Risk Management capacity through the integration of the National Early Warning System (NEWS) into the country’s Comprehensive Disaster Management strategy.

Speaking at the signing, Gonsalves said that St Vincent and the Grenadines is exposed to high levels of risk to meteorological and geophysical hazards, which have significant negative impacts on the country’s economic and fiscal stability.

Addressing board members, the Prime Minister said that since October 2010, we have had several natural disasters and the loss and damage between 2010 and early 2015 is in the aggregate, some one third of GDP, over $660 million.

He said that during the December 2013 floods, the loss and damage was 17 per cent of GDP and that amounted to EC$330 million, numbers backed by the World Bank.

“Of course, on top of all of that, our rural economy has been ravaged as a consequence of the diminution of the preferential treatment of our bananas in the United Kingdom, diminution to the point where in 1992 we did about EC$120 million worth of exports in bananas and the last couple of years, in a number in single digit millions,” said Gonsalves.

The money will be used for the demolition and reconstruction of Union River Bridge (Windward Road), Union River Bridge (Chapmans) and Dixon Bridge. Work will also be done on river defences and river training at Union River, Zhenga River and Yambou River. Road works will also be done at Gokool Road (Langley Park) and Maroon Hill to Zhenga Bridge (Greiggs main road). The money will also be used for engineering services, detail design, contract preparation and consultancy services, among other things.

The Prime Minister described the project as an ambitious programme, which is being aided by the CDB, the World Bank, Mexico and the United Nations. He said that Ecuador has also done its part.

“We are very grateful for this $11.3 million and I have to say thanks; it is a difficult world for a lot of people, but gratitude is important to express,” said Gonsalves, who added that he is hoping that in the future things can be done a bit faster.

Commenting, CDB president Smith said that it was an honour to sign the loan agreements, as projects relating to disaster risk is something the CDB feels strongly about.

He added that SVG is positioned geographically as a place where there is risk of disasters and over the last few years CDB has put millions of dollars into the country to respond to a number of events.(LC)