The St Mark’s Community is better prepared for the 2014 Hurricane Season with the completion of the St Mark’s Mitigation Project.
The project, undertaken by internationally recognised construction company, China Harbour Engineering Company Ltd (CHEC), was officially handed over during an elaborate ceremony last week Friday on the grounds of the Bonair Government School.
CHEC Americas completed the work nearly two months earlier than planned in the $US5 million project that employed nearly 100 people – 90% of whom were Grenadians.
The project entailed the construction of 900 metres of retaining walls on both sides of the river as well as expansion and dredging of the river to protect residents from dangerous flooding.
Country Manager of CHEC Grenada, Jeff Wang said that his team worked hard to complete the project before the peak of the hurricane season (between June and November) as this area is particularly prone to floods and damage caused by soil erosion.
Wang stated that apart from providing employment for more than 90 Grenadians, other persons throughout the community benefited through the sales of food among other things.
He felt that the project could be used as an additional tourist attraction for the community and encouraged residents to take care of the facility by keeping it clean for future generations.
Parliamentary Representative for St. Mark’s, Minister of Health & Social Security, Dr. Clarice Modeste in making reference to the river that has caused devastation throughout the years, said, “a lion has been tamed … the great river will no longer pose a danger to the people.”
In the past, torrential rains and mudslides caused much devastation in St. Mark’s, resulting in the destruction of homes and the loss of lives.
Dr. Modeste pointed out that the river has always been a concern to the people of the parish particularly during the rainy season and impending weather conditions.
She described the completion of the project as “a dream come true”, for the residents of St Mark’s.
“This flood mitigation project is a priority – needed for the safety of the community. In addition, it has provided much needed employment for the locals”, she remarked.
According to the MP for the Constituency, China Harbour Engineering Company has executed an excellent job and has collaborated well with the community and the Government on the project.
The senior government minister complimented CHEC for utilising their own resources to undertake the project and the input of “bush engineers (residents)”, who contributed to the project based on observation for the success of the project.
Steps to better access the river were laid and clearly marked swimming basins/areas were put in place to further cater to the needs of the community.
Casting aside remarks that the previous Government of ex-Prime Minister Tillman Thomas was instrumental in bringing the project to Grenada, the St Mark’s MP said that while there was discussions with the NDC regime and CHEC it was nothing more than that, “talk”.
“You have people out there who come and talk, but talk is cheap, when you start signing documents and hiring locals that is walking the talk and that is what China Harbour did. Their heart is in the right place and I want to thank CHEC for believing that our Government will honour the agreements that we have discussed together”, Dr Modeste added.
The St Mark’s project is the first in a series of infrastructural works to be implemented by CHEC Americas in Grenada.
The company has already completed its geo-technical studies on the Lauriston Airport in Carriacou and work will soon begin on the expansion and refurbishing of the Maurice Bishop International Airport (MBIA) in St George’s.
Since CHEC began its operations in Grenada, it has been engaged in several Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives, including the donation of school supplies, clean up campaigns, and the sponsorship of cricket in Carriacou.
Deputy General Manager of CHEC Americas, Frank Yuan, assured Grenadians that his company would continue to do its best for the country.
“At CHEC Americas, we strive to stand by our core business values which can be best characterised with four words – integrity, dedication, inclusion and innovation. As such, we are deeply rooted in our commitment to maximising the utilisation of local resources and expertise in all our operations”, he said.
Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell who also attended the official handing over ceremony expressed thanks to CHEC and the People’s Republic of China for further demonstrating themselves as friends of Grenada.
“This is a very happy day, we are launching a very significant project for the development of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique. I want to extend a special thanks to our friends at China Harbour. With Grenada working along with China and the U.S. together, we can’t go wrong,”said PM Mitchell.
During its stay in St. Mark’s, CHEC Americas also built a basketball court for the Bonair Government School as part of its social outreach programme on the island.