There has been little visible progress on the houses being constructed at Green Hill under the government’s housing programme, six months after they were to be handed over to hopeful homeowners.
Citizens who have paid the state-owned Housing and Land Development Corporation (HLDC) to build their houses are yet to have them handed over, two months after the deadline by which the HLDC had said it hoped to have them finished (Christmas 2014).
Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves told the media last week that he is expecting a report on the development soon from Sir Vincent Beache, newly-appointed chair of the HLDC, a state agency.
“The new chairman, Sir Vincent Beache is providing me with a report either later this week or next week,” Gonsalves said.
Sir Vincent, who took up the position on Feb. 1, replaced businessman Beresford Phillips, who aspires to be the ruling Unity Labour Party’s candidate for Central Kingstown in the next general elections.
“The outgoing chairman has provided me — almost all the houses were over 70 per cent, some 90 per cent complete. Two or three were 20-25 per cent and then two didn’t start at all. … They had to do with two police officers, … there had to be a transfer of the land so no start could have taken place. And the new chairman has the mandate to deal with this matter at a priority,” Gonsalves said.
One person who is waiting to have her house handed over, told I-Witness News that she has not heard from HLDC since last November about the status of her house.
In a Nov. 6 meeting, Phillips blamed the state-owned Central Water and Sewerage Authority (CWSA) for the delay.
But the CWSA showed to I-Witness News documents proving that the HLDC did not respond to CWSA communiqué about connecting water to the houses.
In his conversation with the media last week, Gonsalves suggested that Phillips’ removal from HLDC has more to do with policy than his performance as chair of HLDC.
“I just want to say this: Beresford Phillips has been a very energetic chairman, but in this year, where between now and March next year we have to have a general elections, … I don’t allow anybody to be chairman of a state enterprise who is a sitting member of Parliament or somebody who is a candidate or is likely to be candidate, because I don’t want that institution to be in any way sullied by any perception of any political bias, interference or anything of the sort,” Gonsalves said.