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Providence Industrial Estate remains close amid assessments and safety soncerns |09 December 2023

Providence Industrial Estate remains close amid assessments and safety soncerns

The Providence Task Force, led by the Industrial Estate Authority and comprising representatives from the Disaster Risk Management Division, Seychelles Police, Seychelles Infrastructure Agency, and the Planning Authority, has decided to extend the closure of the Providence Industrial Estate.

This decision was confirmed by the chief risk management officer, Daniel Cetoupe in an interview with Seychelles NATION yesterday.

The estate will remain non-operational until further notice. Assessments are under way to devise a phased reopening strategy, which will be discussed in a forthcoming meeting this Sunday, he said.

The goal is to ensure a safe and structured return to operations based on the assessments conducted.

The Disaster Risk Management Division (DRMD) convened a debriefing with key stakeholders, including the health ministry, environment department, and representatives from the Climate Adaptation and Mitigation, Planning Authority, Seychelles Infrastructure Agency, and Industrial Estate Authority. This meeting focused on strategising a comprehensive response to the recent natural disasters and the explosion at Providence.

A significant challenge highlighted in the meeting was the funding for response efforts. While a contingency fund exists for such situations, the committee in charge will determine the extent to which it will be utilised versus sourcing funds from current agency budgets.

“Some payment will definitely be made by the contingency fund,” Mr Cetoupe clarified, indicating a commitment to resource allocation for recovery efforts.

In the immediate term, the task force will conduct a thorough assessment of the Providence infrastructure. This evaluation is crucial to determine which businesses can resume operations and under what conditions. Additionally, there will be a geological assessment of the mountainous area in the zone where the blast occured, which will be integral to the phased reopening plan.

“Ensuring the area's safety and security before public access is our top priority,” Mr Cetoupe emphasised.

Drawing on his experience, he suggested that, based on international examples, partial operations could resume in approximately 10-15 days post-disaster. However, he cautioned that this is merely an estimate and the actual timeline for Providence will depend heavily on the ongoing assessments.

Regarding the flooding in the northern region, he said there was an ongoing assessment to address the pending cases and develop a long-term strategy for the most affected areas. Mr Cetoupe said their initial observation was that the unusually high rainfall, as reported by the meteorological service, was a potential cause for the overflowing of catchment areas, which led to flooding and landslides in the region.

The DRMD is leading a comprehensive damage and loss assessment to ascertain the necessity for international interventions. The findings from these assessments will be pivotal in guiding such decisions.

Mr Cetoupe also reflected on the government's response system's capacity. While acknowledging that the DRMD was not overwhelmed with the two disasters, he noted the strain on resources, emphasising the importance of community self-help for minor issues. This approach would allow more focused assistance for those in dire need.

The accompanying photos show the state of some buildings at the Providence Industrial Estate following the explosion at Petiti Paris.


Sunny Esparon

Photos by Patrick Joubert

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