Wednesday 27th March, 2019-Misleading is how the National Office of Disaster Services is describing information being circulated on social media about the recovery efforts in Barbuda.
NODS in a statement says the false information is contained in a video posted on a Facebook page “Barbudian Daze” and is captioned “Barbuda March 2019 Status Report.”
According to the National Office of Disaster Services, the video claims that the Barbuda Council was responsible for repairing the airport terminal building, which is not true. Work was done under NODS recovery programme utilizing government and donor funding. A Barbudan contractor erected the fence, a statement outlined, while repair work on the building was done by an Antiguan contractor along with workmen from the Antigua and Barbuda Defence Force and Cuba. Another Barbudan Contractor, who was employed by the Barbuda Council, supervised the work. NODS says it is challenging those responsible for the video to prove otherwise.
As it relates to repairs to other buildings like the hospital, the post office, the environmental health building and the police station, NODS notes that these are all being repaired using donor funding and government has no control over the donor’s internal processes.
One million US dollars have been made available by the Indian government to complete the Hanna Thomas Hospital and the Post Office, which is being managed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The Barbuda Council NODS contends is fully aware of this and has been part of discussions with the UNDP and the government.
The statement continued that the Council is also aware that work on the Chinese Community Centre and minor repairs to the Council Office are being done through the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) with funds from the Canadian government. Government has no control over the CDB or UNDP’s procedures.
With regards to the Police Station, the building has severe structural damage and may have to be torn down. The Council is also aware that repairs are being carried out through a small grant funding from the Canadian government to fix the ZabethHandicraft Centre to house the police. This building could have been completed had there not been a shortage of windows. The windows have since been purchased and installed while the electrical work is now being carried out.
NODS admits the Barbuda Council did repair the Day Care Centre. What was a two-storey building has been reduced to a single storey structure as the upper floor was severely damaged. With regards to the secondary school, some repair was done and the classroom that was blown away was replaced in partnership with Samaritan’s Purse. Concerning the Holy Trinity Primary School, an assessment was carried out and NODS was advised that the structural integrity of the building was compromised hence the government erected temporary structures at Low School, which is close to Holy Trinity, to accommodate the students.
The Agriculture Building, which is to be rebuilt, and the Lands and Planning Office, which is to be repaired and will take a greater effort to be completed, will be part of the second phase of the recovery operation.
Director of NODS Philmore Mullin says as a result of government’s decision to build back better on Barbuda it will take time and the situation is made complex due to the level of structural deficiency discovered on the sister isle that has to be corrected before going forward.
Mullin says misinformation and misleading statements being made in the public have caused some donors to back away from providing any assistance hence he is calling on individuals to act responsibly when circulating information.