By LEANDRA ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
DISASTER Reconstruction Authority officials revealed yesterday that major construction on the Abaco community centre and hurricane shelter will begin this month, lasting throughout 2023.
DRA manager director Aarone Sargent gave an update on the project and other post Dorian relief initiatives being organised by the agency during a press briefing at the Office of the Prime Minister yesterday.
He said: “We are happy to announce that we have completed the professional phase which is geo-technical, civil structural and an updated architectural work of the Abaco hurricane shelter and community centre.
“We have made several amendments to the footprint of the shelter which include making the centre accessible to residents who have disabilities and we have added a part of the shelter to allow for shelter entrance into the hurricane shelter.
“Further, based on the reassessments of the foundational footprint, the foundation was raised to mitigate against major flooding which will be necessary for a hurricane shelter.”
He said the construction will not exceed the DRA’s budget for the project, which is estimated at $2m.
“We will continue to rebuild the confidence in this project by satisfying the reporting requests by the UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) which represents the Indian government and their $1m donation to this project,” Mr Sargent said.
“Major construction will begin on site by mid to end September and last throughout 2023.’’ He also revealed that it is the DRA’s intention to replicate the “state owned” hurricane shelter model so similar centres can be built throughout The Bahamas.
“We are developing project plans to build at least four purpose-built shelters by 2024 on Cat Island and San Salvador, Grand Bahama, Exuma and Eleuthera,” he added.
The need for hurricane proof shelters in the country was highlighted in 2019 after Hurricane Dorian laid waste to homes, churches and other facilities that were used to shelter residents during the monster storm.
Recognising this need, the Minnis administration participated in a groundbreaking ceremony for the hurricane shelter and community centre in the Central Pines community in December 2020, saying the facility will be capable of accommodating 800 people during a hurricane.
It was initially expected that the centre would be completed by May 2021, before the beginning of the 2021 hurricane season.
However, that target was missed and months later, the Minnis administration was voted out of office.
The Davis administration has said it is committed to assisting residents on both Abaco and Grand Bahama and furthering restoration efforts on the storm impacted islands.