Lawrence Wheatley Construction recently received a $475,611 contract to repair the Emile E. Dunlop Community Centre in Anegada, which was damaged more than four years ago in Hurricane Irma, government announced.

The centre serves as a primary emergency shelter for residents on the island.

Works will focus mainly on non-structural elements such as replacing and stregthening the roof; upgrading windows and doors; installing energy-efficient light and water fixtures; and other improvements designed to ensure the facility complies with international shelter standards as well as SMART-programme guidelines, according to Dr. Yitades Gebre, the Pan American Health Organization representative for Barbados and Eastern Caribbean countries.

Premier Andrew Fahie praised the move.

“I am so pleased that Lawrence Wheatley Construction, a local contractor on the island of Anegada, has won this bid,” he said in a government press release. “The extensive capacity-building initiatives that have been implemented over the past few years has allowed for this company to put its bid forward, to meet the international procurement standards set by organisations such as PAHO, and to have the technical and administrative skills to undertake the works.”

He also thanked PAHO for offering opportunities for other local contractors as well.

“Quality Construction, who completed the works at the West End Community Centre; Tarris Hill Associates Ltd at the Valerie O. Thomas Community Centre; and now Lawrence Wheatley Construction at the Emile E. Dunlop Community Centre,” the premier said. “We are well on our way to ensuring that the knowledge and skills are available among our contractors to rebuild this territory in a safe, healthy and green way to meet the SMART standards promoted by PAHO and the [European Union].”

The designs for the facilities were carried out by PAHO’s technical experts in the Virgin Islands, who partnered with regulators to ensure that plans were approved and that cost estimates were in line with the current local rates, according to government.

The ongoing project — which will also see retrofitting on four emergency shelters and the provision of appliances and equipment for ten — is being financed by the EU through a formal agreement with PAHO, government stated.

The government previously announced that the EU was providing a €2 million grant for the project, which is aimed at improving national emergency response and increasing community preparedness.

PAHO, meanwhile, is providing technical oversight.