Barbuda development ready to be launched
By Shelton Daniel
The physical development plan for Barbuda, which the Gaston Browne administration has signaled determination to implement, is not new as it was initially the plan as far back as 2006 when the United Progressive Party (UPP) held the reins of government.
Information Minister, Melford Nicholas, highlighted this on Thursday morning when he hosted the weekly post-Cabinet press briefing.
Nicholas was responding to inquiries about the level of the central government’s engagement with the Barbuda Council about its plans for land use zoning on the sister isle.
“Yes, we do intend to have ongoing engagements with the Council,” was his reply.
The Barbuda Land Use and Development plan is the brainchild of Chad Knight Alexander (CKA), who presented an updated version of the document to Cabinet on Wednesday.
Elements of Alexander’s proposals include building new homes away from the shoreline and on ground that is 15 feet above sea-level at Louis Hill, where the Sir McChesney George Secondary School is already situated.
“We did a refresh yesterday,” Nicholas said. “It was an important rejoinder for us to refresh ourselves with that plan. We would have had, shortly after Hurricane Irma, a similar engagement with Mr. Chad Knight Alexander.”
Nicholas said “two features came up” during the Cabinet’s deliberations. These were “in response to climate change and the hurricanes, and the fact that the [Codrington] lagoon has been breached”.
With these in mind, the minister said, “The risk remains that should there be any large or significant sea swell, the lower coast line and lower coastal areas of which Codrington is smack-dab in the middle of it, would be exposed to the movement of water across the bay and into Codrington as well.”
Apart from residential homes, the CKA plan includes locating government offices and hurricane shelters to Louis Hill. The Prince’s Foundation has proposed building 100 homes in the area and is reportedly ready to proceed. Nicholas said the government has given its approval.
The People’s Republic of China has also agreed to build 100 homes on Barbuda as a gift to the twin island state. It has already been determined that this grant housing development will be concentrated on higher ground to mitigate against any flooding that develops during hurricanes and other adverse weather events.
“There are about 1,000 acres of land in that [Louis Hill] area. The first demarcation is about 250 acres that includes the school district where the secondary school is no located and adjacent to where we intend to locate the new primary school that has been promised by the Dominican Republic (DR).”
Nicholas disclosed that Prime Minister Gaston Browne has communicated directly with the new DR president, Luis Abinader, “to ensure that, notwithstanding the change in government, the offer they made to us back in 2017 [for construction of a new primary school on Barbuda] would be fulfilled.”
The development of the seaport at River in Barbuda has also been taken into account, in addition to land and space allocations for agriculture and recreation.
According to this week’s post-Cabinet briefing notes, “the complex [CKA] plan is included in the [final/complete] E.R.C. report which will shortly be made public”.