Kokerite families to permanently relocate: Govt to construct first 10 homes
Government, through the Ministry of Housing and Water, will construct the first 10 homes for families in Kokerite, Region One (Barima-Waini), as part of a process to permanently relocate residents from the flood-prone waterfront area.
The homes will be constructed by the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CHPA) under its Hinterland Housing Programme. The 20 x 25 wooden, elevated units will be constructed at an estimated cost of $3 million each, and will be equipped with basic amenities including washroom facilities and water storage tanks and trestle.
Minister, Collin Croal, M.P made the announcement on Monday, while conducting an assessment of flood affected areas along the Barama River. He was accompanied by CH&PA Engineer, Cy Rodrigues, and Regional Chairman, Brentnol Ashley, Vice Chairperson, Anansha Peters, and Deputy Regional Executive Officer, Shem Cuffy.
Kokerite has a total of 34 households located along the bank of the Barama River. The village’s important infrastructure – health centre, school, village office, water and other public buildings are also located there.
Over the past two years, that village, like many others along the Barama River, has been severely affected by floods as a result of unprecedented rainfall during the May/June rainy season. It is the first time in decades that the area has ever experienced such a magnitude of flooding which forced residents to move inland.
As a result, through Toshao, Rofus Rodrigues, villagers requested government’s assistance to relocate to an area located one mile away from the waterfront. They had asked that government provide materials, machinery, and fuel to clear the land.
Minister Croal said a decision was made to prioritise Kokerite as the first village to benefit from the homes under hinterland housing programme. The project will commence immediately after the consultation process is carried out within a month.
The minister told residents while the country is grappling with the effects of climate change, decisions will have to be made at the level of government to safeguard the livelihood of citizens located in the most vulnerable areas.
“Having done our assessment and based on discussions with your Toshao, you cannot continue to live in the condition you are living in, ” Minister Croal told residents.
He added, “We have to look at higher lands for not only farming, but for residency… the village has to look at redesigning the area, and persons will have to be relocated.”
Under the project, 20 persons- two per unit, will be employed, along with a clerk of works to assist with the monitoring of the project. Materials will also be purchased from within the village.
Rodrigues explained that to ensure transparency and accountability, the village council will identify the 10 families most in need. The villagers will then have to agree with the selection through a voting process. He noted further that while CH&PA will employ two persons per unit, beneficiaries will have to provide the additional labourers needed as part of their contribution.
Additionally, the regional chairman has committed to providing assistance in the form of equipment and fuel to clear the land identified for relocation.
As part of immediate support, the 34 households received food hampers and cleaning supplies and rain boots for adults and children. Fourteen persons whose homes were completely under water also received mattresses.
Meanwhile, some 50 families of Kariako and 20 in Chinese Landing also benefited from hampers and cleaning supplies. A medical team was also on the ground engaging residents on safety measures they could implement to avoid contracting any illnesses during the floods.