(PRESS RELEASE VIA SNO) – On the heels of the contract signing for the island-wide drainage initiative, community meetings, got underway in earnest.
In the first meeting, held in the community of Bexon, scores of residents turned up to interact with the Design consultant and technocrats from the Project Coordinating Unit, PCU. Speaking ahead of the meetings, Lester Arnold, the Design consultant for the flood mitigation project in Castries South and Castries East, explained the rationale behind the community consultations.
This is the first in a series of community meetings we intend to hold with the stakeholders. At this meeting, what we aim to do is to introduce them to the project and the aims and objectives of this project. Essentially, what we will do is to highlight to them what we are going to be doing in the next couple of weeks, in terms of identifying what the drainage issues are in the communities.
The highly animated meetings allowed for intelligent exchange between residents and technocrats. Residents displayed acute knowledge of their communities and the flooding issues which they encountered over many years. They were aptly able to outline flooding issues encountered and provided credible recommendations for dealing with the problems.
At the end of the tête-à-tête, Design Consultant Lester Arnold commented on what he described as constructive engagements.
“We highlighted to them that there are macro issues in terms of macro flooding that will give rise to bigger projects and micro flooding that gives rise to the smaller issues. This project, however, is going to be addressing the smaller issue or the micro issues. We brought that point across to them and it was well received by the majority of the participants. It is our intention to meet with them again.”
Participants were given a basic questionnaire which allowed them to log flooding and drainage problems faced. The consultant indicated that issues documented shall be investigated and ranked. The information will be placed into a matrix and a score will be applied to each project to be prioritized and placed into a bigger island-wide project list which will then be fed into the overall budget.
To date the design consultants, have also had fruitful discussions with residents of Anse-La-Raye, Soufriere, Canaries, Dennery and Desruiseaux.
The duration of the Design Consultancy is four (4) months.
Works are expected to commence soon after the designs are presented to the Ministry of Economic Development.