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Eight contractors in the BVI have received invitations to bid for the project to repair the West End Community Centre which serves as a primary emergency shelter for residents in the British Virgin Islands.
Officials from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Health Emergencies Programme visited the BVI in February of this year and met with representatives from the Premier’s Office, the Ministry of Health and Social Development and the Department of Disaster Management to review the works proposed on 10 buildings that have been prioritised to be upgraded to the PAHO Smart (Safe and Green) standards.
The West End Community Centre and the Valarie O. Thomas Community Centre in Sea Cows Bay were identified as showcase facilities. Designs for both facilities have now been completed and are ready to be tendered.
Dr. Yitades Gebre, PAHO/WHO Representative for Barbados and Eastern Caribbean Countries said works on the facilities will focus mainly on non-structural elements such as replacement or strengthening of the roofs, upgrade of windows and doors; flooding, energy efficient light and water fixtures; and improvements in functionality and ensuring that they are in full compliance with international shelter standards. Attention will also be paid to improving drainage and security around the perimeter of the buildings.
Dr. Gebre added, “The Emergency shelters will be equipped with emergency kits to support their operations when needed. We are very excited to see the works advancing even with the impacts that we are facing in the region from the COVID-19 virus.”
Premier and Minister of Finance, Honourable Andrew A. Fahie expressed his gratitude to PAHO for advancing the works at a time when the Territory is being challenged by the impacts of COVID-19.
The Premier said, “I am so pleased to learn that eight local contractors will have the opportunity to put forward their bids to undertake the repairs. I believe in the skills and the competencies of the people of the Virgin Islands to build a resilient and sustainable BVI for generation of Virgin Islanders to come and to further build on.”
Premier Fahie said he welcomed this type of economic activity in the Territory at this time when the Government is rebooting and re-awakening the economy through the skills and competence of its people.
He said, “This good news of construction at this emergency shelter demonstrates that we are able to move ahead toward planning for a better and brighter future for the people of the BVI even in the midst of a global health pandemic.”
The Premier added, “BVI is operating in the ‘New Regular’ where we are living and working with COVID-19; our recovery is still on the move; and we will continue our normal preparation for the hurricane season with the people in the Virgin Islands leading the way.”
The designs for the facilities were done by PAHO’s technical experts who partnered with the local agencies and individuals to ensure that the plans were approved through the local Planning Authority and that the costs estimates were in line with the local rates.
Premier Fahie thanked the PAHO team and all those who worked together over the last few months to complete the designs. “It demonstrates the resilience of our people and the power of partnership with our regional organisations,” he said, adding that he looks forward to seeing the works commence on the emergency shelters as the Territory gets ready for what is predicted to be an above average Hurricane Season which is just two months away.
This project was launched one year ago and is valued at 2 million Euros. It will include the rehabilitation of selected emergency shelters, the provision of emergency relief supplies for these facilities, training for the public and private sector in resilient, safe and green (Smart) building strategies and standards, and training in shelter management inclusive of psychosocial care.
PAHO has recently completed an interim guide for Caribbean countries in light of the COVID-19 pandemic which includes preparatory measures to be taken in emergency shelters during the activation of these facilities inclusive of Basic Infection Control, and Hygiene and Space Management standards.
This resilience building project is being financed by the European Union (EU) through a formal agreement with PAHO. The organisation is providing technical oversight for the implementation of the project aimed at improving national emergency response and increasing community preparedness.