Wednesday, 2 July 2014

St. Mark Flood Mitigation project completed

Health and Social Security Minister, and Parliamentary
Representative for St. Mark, Clarice Modeste (second from
right, partially hidden), along with Chinese Ambassador
Ou Boqian, unveil the plaque in recognition of the St. Mark Flood
Mitigation project, while Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell looks on.

“A lion has been tamed,” was the assurance from Parliamentary Representative, Clarice Modeste, to residents who live close to the Great River in St. Mark’s, when officials from China Harbour Engineering Company Ltd. (CHEC), along with Government, held a closing ceremony to officially bring to an end the St. Mark Flood Mitigation project.

Describing the river as a lion is not an understatement to the residents, as it is known for flooding its banks during the rainy season, claiming lives and destroying the homes of many, who like those in rural communities reside close and in some cases, extremely close to the banks of rivers.

“I grew up not far from the river and every rainy season we worried about it bursting its banks, but you will no longer have to worry about that as this river, which can be so gentle now can turn into a roaring lion with the right amount of rain,” Modeste said about the river, which source is the watershed area of St. Mark.

Modeste, who serves as Health and Social Security Minister, said that the flood mitigation project is a priority needed for the safety of the community. The construction, which cost US$5 million, was completed and handed over almost one month before the scheduled completion time, and will protect the community from the effects of dangerous flooding. The launch of the project in 2013 was the first for the then new Chinese Ambassador Ou Boqian.

In her remarks, she said that her Government was very pleased to be associated with the project, which brings less worry to the people.

“You don’t have to worry about the River suffering you again; its feet and hands are tied up,” she said about the project, which involved dredging certain parts of the river, building river defences and placing of steps so that residents can continue to use the river for traditional practices, such as washing.

Dr. the Right Hon. Keith Mitchell, Prime Minister of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique, said that this occasion was a special one for his country.

“This is a very happy day. We are launching a very significant project for the development of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique. I want to extend a special thanks to our friends at China Harbour. With Grenada working along with China and the US together, we can’t go wrong.”

In the past, torrential rains and mudslides caused much devastation in the parish of St. Mark, many of which resulted in the destruction of homes, and, more importantly, the loss of lives.

In an attempt to combat this problem, the Government took the decision to contract China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) Americas to implement the St. Mark Flood Mitigation project in 2013. Steps to better access the river were laid and clearly marked swimming basins/areas were put in place to further cater to the needs of the community.

“In the Caribbean, you never know when a hurricane can hit, especially in the season between June and November,” remarked Jeff Wang, Country Manager of CHEC Grenada.

“With this in mind, our team has been working especially hard to complete this project before the peak of the hurricane season, as this area is particularly prone to floods and damage caused by soil erosion.”

The project employed nearly 100 people – 90 per cent of whom were Grenadians from the immediate surroundings.

Social outreach

During the project life, CHEC Americas did not only build barriers to control the river, but showed its commitment to further enhancing the community through a number of social outreach programmes, one of which is the basketball court which was granted to the Bonaire Government School to celebrate the completion of the project.

Since CHEC began its operations in Grenada, it has been engaged in several Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives, including the donation of school supplies, clean-up campaigns, and the sponsorship of cricket in Carriacou.

Frank Yuan, Deputy General Manager of CHEC Americas, thanked the Government and the people of Grenada for their support, while reassuring attendees that CHEC would continue to contribute its best services to the country.

“At CHEC Americas, we strive to stand by our core business values, which can be best characterised with four words – Integrity, Dedication, Inclusion and Innovation. As such, we are deeply rooted in our commitment to maximising the utilisation of local resources and expertise in all our operations.”

The St. Mark project is the first of a series of infrastructure development Government projects, which are to be implemented by CHEC Americas. The company has already completed its geotechnical studies on the Lauriston Airport in Carriacou and work will soon begin on the expansion and refurbishing of the Maurice Bishop International Airport in St. George’s.

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