by Kevon Browne
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): Leader of the People’s Action Movement (PAM), Hon. Shawn Richards, has said the endeavour by the Labour administration for a new housing revolution “appears to be shrouded in much secrecy”.
“The people of St. Kitts and Nevis only found out about this particular contract and proposed housing scheme when it was revealed by the Trinidad News Express… that a contract had been entered into with a company out of Trinidad by the name of East Coast Housing Development to build 2400 homes over the next four years. Approximately 600 homes per year. One also the quantum of the contract. If I am correct, we are looking at some 750 million EC Dollars supposedly to build a one-bedroom, two bedrooms, three bedrooms smart home. When one considers the price of those homes again, questions are raised.” – Richards during the May 25 broadcast of WINN’s Island Tea.
The Opposition MP also questioned one of the safety measures shared by the Attorney General during the May 18 Prime Minister’s press conference, where the Hon. Garth Wilkin shared;
“Built into the contract is that two model homes will be built. If the government and/or NHC are not satisfied with the model homes and, by extension, the contractors that will be part of the construction of these model homes because of the new technology and the potential homeowners – all the stakeholders if they’re not satisfied with the model homes, the contract comes to an end. And that is the primary protection that the people in this country have. And that was the fundamental aspect that we wanted to include to make us feel even more comfortable moving forward with this agreement.”
Richards said using the two model homes as a gauge for the satisfaction of the government, the Nation Housing Corporation, Contractors and would-be homeowners were ill-advised and offered a suggestion on how he would have gone about that particular protection put in place by the government.
“Why is it that you’re going to build two models and allow [people] to have an input after the fact that a contract [was] signed? For me, it would have made better sense to build the two model homes and then allow [individuals] to look at these homes, and after they have looked at them, critique them, you get some sort of input – then you determine how to move forward in terms of a contract and even in terms of the quantum of home that you are intending to build. So you have that particular concern.”
He went further to criticise the government for the excuse given as to why the public could not view the details of the contract with Trinidad-based East Coast Housing Development Limited.
“I’ve also heard the excuse being given that in terms of the Freedom of Information Act that you may have certain trade secrets within the contract, and because of that, it cannot be made available to the public. I have said, and I repeat, that you can redact the particular section of the contract which speaks to any trade secrets and make the rest of the contract available to the public so that a lot of the questions which [people] have… can be adequately answered. And it also makes good sense in terms of transparency in terms of the good governance agenda that this particular government has been touting even before it got into government.”
The PAM leader said it was important for there to be more engagement with the citizens and residents of St. Kitts and Nevis who may be directly or indirectly impacted by the building of the 2.400 homes.
Other questions raised by the Richards spoke to where the homes will be built, would farmlands be affected, was a consortium of local contractors considered for the building of the homes with government assistance in securing financing. See the full interview with the Hon. Shawn Richards here:
While questions about the housing situation continue to mount, the contract has been signed, and once the model homes meet the standard of all parties involved, the building of the 2,400 homes will commence.
See below a Factsheet shared by the NHC about the smart homes.