Social commentator Mr Claude O. Skelton-Cline has lambasted the Virgin Islands Recovery and Development Agency (RDA) for constructing more temporary housing units even as the territory is long past the hurricanes and other disasters of 2017.
Calling the structures 'igloos' he said, "What I am challenged by is that here we are, more than two years now outside of the hurricanes of 2017, and the rains of August of the same year... I can't understand why are we still building temporary housing of this nature two years removed from the tragedies," Skelton-Cline told his listening audience on the Tuesday, November 5, 2019, edition of his 'Honestly Speaking' radio show.
'We want locals to get contracts'- Skelton-Cline
However, while he has signalled his disapproval for the project, the man of the cloth said he is in favour and celebrate local contractors being the recipients of such contracts, "and their businesses are growing and persons are working, so I applaud that."
Over on the facebook page of the Virgin Islands RDA, it is noted that the contract was signed for the installation and upgrades of temporary housing solutions on Jost van Dyke.
The contract was inked with Rajah A. Smith of No Limit Construction on October 28, 2019, and valued at $171,679.70. Minister for Health and Social Development Honourable Carvin Malone (AL) and Second District Representative Honourable Melvin M. Turnbull (R2) were also present at the contract signing.
"As we continue on the road to recovery, the RDA is pleased to partner with the Ministry of Health and Social Development for the installation and upgrades to temporary housing units on Jost van Dyke. The works include the installation of two new temporary shelters and essential connections for electrical, plumbing and sewerage systems across a total of seven sites," the release said.
This project is funded jointly by Unite BVI, a private donor and the Government of the Virgin Islands and, according to the RDA, this is the second contract to be signed under the initiative.
"The first was signed on September 30, 2019, with Mr. Roy L. Garraway of Quality Construction for the construction of temporary housing units on Tortola and Anegada. The scope of works for that project included the installation of two new units, one on Tortola and the other on Anegada with two further recipients receiving utility connections to existing structures.
Buildings changing landscape & character of VI
"It just seems like to me... I am challenged why we are not further along in doing more meaningful and substantial things other than assembling these igloos," Skelton-Cline said.
Calling for more permanent and sustainable buildings, he said the VI is not the Abaco Islands which was just ravaged by Hurricane Dorian of 2019 to be littered with such buildings.
“When I see these things [temporary buildings], yes there are persons in need... but even these things being in Anegada or Jost van Dyke, I see some in West End... It begins to change the character of this country in terms of building and I am baffled and dumbfounded by some of this stuff',” Skeleton Cline said in noting his displeasure.
"These things that are supposed to be temporary have a way of becoming permanent and it concerns me on both fronts," he said.