September 19, 2020

Poor engineering, drainage led to St Vincent house collapse – Gonsalves


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house-collapseFrom Caribbean360

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, Tuesday September 23, 2014, CMC – Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves says poor engineering, poor drainage, and “soil issues” were responsible for the collapse last Friday of a house that the government built as part of its affordable housing initiative.

The three-bedroom concrete house, constructed nearly two and a half years ago, was among several built in , in south-western St. Vincent under the Low- and Middle-Income Housing Project.

It collapsed about two months after the owner, physician Katisha Douglas, began complaining to the Housing and Land Development Corporation () that the structure was shaking.

The HLDC, a state agency, oversees the implementation of the government’s housing policy, including the housing project in Clare Valley.

Citing preliminary findings, Prime Minister Gonsalves told radio listeners that he had discussed the development with Minister of State in the Ministry of Works, Julian Francis, Minister of Housing, Montgomery Daniel, chief engineer Brent Bailey, and chair of the HLDC, Beresford Phillips.

“I was informed by the chief engineer [that] the problem had three basic sources: one, the nature of the soil, for which there was, I have been advised, a geo-technical study, but the pole, the stilt, or the column on which the house was constructed that they did not take it, given the nature of the soil, down to a point where it ought to have been taken.

“So, there was a challenge of the soil, but, obliviously, from what is given to me preliminarily, that there was an error of judgement in addressing the question of the depth of the column.

“And thirdly, I understand contributing to compromising the integrity of the dwelling is the nature of the drainage,” Gonsalves said.

house-collapse2Gonsalves, who recently took over the works ministry, said he did not know how many houses have been affected.

“But I want to say this: whatever the number, the necessary corrective work will be done by the government and ensuring that the persons who purchased houses have houses which are comfortable and liveable and which is an important investment for them.

“So, I just want to make that point very clear, that the government will not duck any responsibility…

“And I want the Housing and Land Development Corporation to be proactive and sensitive to the needs of the people. I don’t want to hear anything that any official of Housing and Land Development Corporation has said anything which may appear as though he or she is not viewing this matter with utmost seriousness or don’t have any sensitivity towards the people who have either suffered or those who may feel aggrieved and who may feel that they might suffer,” Gonsalves said.

He said a complete, scientific assessment, and costing of the remedial work to be done is required, and the remedial work will take priority going forward.

“I just want to make that plain and straight so that there can be no if buts about this at all. I want to make it absolutely clear,” he said.

Gonsalves said the Ministries of Works and Housing, along with the HLDC will be involved in addressing the situation.

“It would have certain financial implications but these are matters which we address, and we have to address them with urgency. We have to make the correctives,” said Gonsalves, who is also Minister of Finance.

“In the analysis of what has happened, I would want to find out some other details, but the first thing that I want to know objectively: what is the nature of the problem we have at hand, how many houses have a challenge and what is this going to cost, so that I can put everything in place.

“… So I just want to give that assurance to the people of Clare Valley who have their houses in that housing area,” he said.




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