Minister for Communication and Works, Gregory Bowen has given details of the criteria to be applied in awarding homes to families from the Chinese houses that were constructed at Mt. Gay, Frequente and Soubise in St. Andrew’s.
In an exclusive interview with THE NEW TODAY newspaper, the senior government minister disclosed that the 353 housing units built by the Chinese will only be enough to accommodate 300 families.
Minister Bowen said that government has received approximately 5000 applications for the 353 units and careful attention has to be given to the distribution process.
He stated that one unit may not be able to accommodate one family and as such consideration has to be given to giving two units to house one single family.
“…You may have to include two units as one home, that is why we say 300 families for 353 units so it (one) may not be able to accommodate all (the) family in one unit,” he remarked.
According to Minister Bowen, one of the things that will be considered in selecting people to fill the homes, is their level of income because some families will have to contribute to the infrastructure.
“We must all recall that we took a loan to build the roads, bring the water and the light, so no one is being charged for the homes, that was given as a gift by the People’s Republic of China but you must contribute towards the refurbishment of the structure”, he said.
“…Not everyone – you might omit 10 or 20 persons from paying for that but the rest must pay. Even though government would’ve chipped in for 50 people, the other 250 must make a contribution towards the infrastructure,” he added.
Minister Bowen also pointed out that government would like to see some changes to the units to be built in the second phase of the project which is due to start next year.
He admitted that this might prove to be problematic because the Chinese have already done the designs but government was hopeful that “whatever improvements we can get for our people, it certainly will be asking”.
About 500 homes are to be constructed in the second phase in Carriacou, St David’s, and St Mark’s.
Minister Bowen said that parishes like St. John’s, which will not benefit from Chinese constructed houses in the second phase will be earmarked for some in the third phase.
He disclosed that government has asked China to do the infrastructure work as part of the cost for Phase 2 of the project.
“…We hope that we would not have to borrow for the infrastructure component…”, he said.
The Chinese recently officially handed over the units to government and those who will be selected to occupy them should be moving into their new homes for the Christmas.
Resident Chinese Ambassador to Grenada, Ou Boqian has expressed her happiness to finally see the process reaching the stage where people would soon be moving into the houses.