The Minister of Barbuda Affairs has commended key partners who continue to play a major role in the roofing project now taking place on the sister island of Barbuda.
The commendation came over the weekend (Friday Night) at a special Reception hosted by Hon. Dean Jonas, who is also the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries.
The event was attended by a number of officials including Mr. li Kunxian and Mr. Feng Hua, representatives from China International Center for Economic and Technical Exchanges of the Ministry of Commerce of China, Ms. Qian Chunying, UNDP Chief Advisor for Global Partnership and South South Cooperation and Mr. Ugo Blanco, UNDP Barbados and OECS Senior Recovery Advisor.
Cuban Ambassador, His Excellency Gustavo Veliz Olivarez, Mr. Philmore Mullin, Director of the National Office of Disaster Services and representatives from Barbuda were also in attendance.
Minister Jonas described the weekend’s event as very significant.
Earlier during the day, the Barbuda Affairs Minister lead a delegation including a group of individuals from China, on a visit to the sister island to observe the progress of the roof- repair project and to get a report on the investment that they have made in the country.
Minister Jonas thanked the visiting team for making the trip which he said was indicative of the level of interest they have in Antigua and Barbuda.
“I do not take this lightly; anytime you have friends who stand with you when you are in trouble, when you undergo hardship, these are really great friends. The Government of the Peoples Republic of China and the people of China have proven to be great friends of Antigua and Barbuda and I really appreciate their efforts and all what they have done for us in Antigua and Barbuda,” Minister Jonas commented.
According to Minister Jonas, the relationship between and Antigua and Barbuda and the Chinese began many years ago with the completion of a number of projects in the areas of sports, education, culture and agriculture.
He also hailed the UNDP as being a ‘good resource’ to Antigua and Barbuda who has been keen in ensuring that the Barbuda rebuilding efforts take place in a timely manner.
Minister Jonas said that he was elated when he saw the report from Mr. Mullin which indicated that by the middle of June, over 250 homes should be completed with their roofs on.
“That would be a great achievement if you were to accomplish that Sir. Mr. Mulling, I’m holding you to that, please make sure that it happens; you have the resources,” the minister commented. So if you need any assistance from my ministry, I’d be happy to assist you. Getting Barbudans back on their feet is of paramount importance to this government and we’ll all work hard to ensure that happens.”
Blanco said UNDP is pleased to be a part of the recovery process.
“The recovery process is never easy and never fast, so the leadership of thinking what to do and making sure that things are done the proper way takes a lot of courage and decisions and for us the UNDP, we have learnt the hard way with being part of recovery processes after the Tsunami in Indonesia and after the earthquake in Haiti and other countries, so it’s really a pleasure to be a partner in this process.”
Since September UNDP has also been working very closely with the governments of Dominica, the British Virgin Islands and St. Martin.
Blanco heaped praises on China for its vision and for trusting UNDP and noted that the contribution of China goes way beyond roofs; its helping people to rebuild homes and come back to a new and stronger Barbuda, dubbed, ’Building Back Better.’
The Chinese Ambassador, His Excellency Wang Xianmin welcomed the officials from the Ministry of Commerce of China and UNDP Representatives to come to Antigua and Barbuda for the field visit of the Roofing Project under China-UNDP-Antigua and Barbuda Cooperation.
He said when he first visited Barbuda after hurricane Irma on January 26th, the repair work has just begun, and he is proud of the tremendous progress that has been made so far.
‘I am pleased to learn that by May 18th, 96% of the targeted houses have been served, and half of them now have full roofs. By the end of June, through enhanced cooperation and hard working forces for this project, the roof repairing work will surely be fully completed.”
Ambassador Xianmin said that this project is a new model of assistance under the South South Cooperation Initiative and is also an example of cooperation among China, UNDP and Antigua and Barbuda.
He also thanked Prime Minister Gaston Browne and local authorities for their unswerving support to the roof-repair project and recounted the PM’s phenomenal concern for the well being of Barbudans by flying to the sister island a day after hurricane Irma hit the island.
UNDP also came in for high praise for their expertise and professional coordination and according to the Chinese Ambassador, with the success of this project, similar ones will follow.
He thanked the contractors and everyone involved noting that they have made this project successful with their own hands.