In a major shift in the country’s housing programme, Government yesterday announced that it has approved a $5B (US$25M) plan to build over 700 duplexes and townhouses to meet demands of low income families in dire need.
The approval was granted Tuesday by the Cabinet after an application by Minister of Communities, Ronald Bulkan.
The 758 homes will include both townhouses and duplexes, according to Minister of State, Joseph Harmon. Harmon made the disclosure at the weekly post-Cabinet press briefing at the Ministry of the Presidency.
Harmon said that the initial pilot phase will see the units in seven regions – 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 10.
The minister noted that the $5B cost is but the first phase of a holistic programme to develop low cost housing targeting public sector employees, youths and low income earners.
The project is expected to start almost immediately and it was anticipated that in the span of 12 months it will be completed, the minister disclosed.
Another phase is expected to start within the next two years in several communities.
According to the official, the important distinction in the initiative that Government wants to make is that it will not just be issuing house lots, but will be involved in building homes within the communities for the citizens.
While the Ministry of Communities is expected to provide more details in the coming days, Harmon noted that the application process for the units will be similar to what prevails for house lots.
At the moment, the Central Housing and Planning Authority, which falls under the Ministry of Communities, has over 25,000 applications for house lots and turn-key homes. But there is very little land on the coastland that Government can find to allocate. Most of the lands are privately owned.
For this particular phase, an initial 1500 families have been shortlisted as most critical, it was disclosed yesterday.
The contracts will in all likelihood be going largely to local contractors with the idea to generate demand for local materials, Harmon said.
He added that it will help to positively impact activities in the forest sector and other areas which have become dormant over time.
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