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Providence Industrial Estate: Aftermath of December 7 explosion   |11 December 2023

Providence Industrial Estate: Aftermath of December 7 explosion   

The press conference: (l to r) Ms Servina, Minister Vidot, Mrs Estico and Mr Shah (Photo: Sunny Esparon)

Fast-track system to ease

swift return to normalcy


By Sunny Esparon


In the aftermath of the December 7 explosion, the Ministry of Investment, Entrepreneurship and Industry has announced a fast-track system for building inspections and occupancy certificates, as well as support for businesses seeking alternate locations or setting up temporary structures.

These were immediate measures announced by Minister Devika Vidot at a press conference held yesterday morning at the Leve Debrouye building in Providence. 

She was accompanied by key officials from the Industrial Estates Authority (IEA), Seychelles Investment Authority (SIA), and the Planning Authority.

The aim of the press conference was to outline government's plan to facilitate a swift return to normalcy in the affected zone.

The initiative aims to ensure safety and order in the area, while also addressing the significant damages and the ongoing controlled access to the zone due to its hazardous conditions.

To facilitate and allow businesses to resume normal operations as fast as possible, there will be a team of relevant authorities who will be on site in Providence as of this afternoon, to carry out inspections, and check whether the buildings were safe for normal operations.

When the inspections are concluded, there will be a ‘fast-track’ system whereby the proprietor would be issued with a certificate as fast as possible. The proprietors would have to ensure that certain things are in order, such as electrical wirings were in order and were functioning properly before they are issued with a certificate.

According to the minister the inspections could go on throughout Tuesday, and the relevant authorities would be able to implement the fast-track system as from Wednesday morning, and visit the proposed site and issue an occupancy instantly.

“There will be occupancy that will come with recommendations,” she said.

The Industrial Estates Authority, in conjunction with the relevant agencies, has set up two phone numbers which businesses would be able to call to provide information about the state of their business premises and whether their building met the criteria for re-opening. The two numbers are 2811204/2828270.

PUC will also be on site when the inspection is being done, to facilitate restoration work.

Minister Vidot clarified that the occupancy certificate will not be given partially to a building due to potential dangers.

She emphasised this would apply to an entire building and called on businesses to be understanding. If businesses are thinking about setting up tents, they could also call the above numbers to notify the relevant authorities to organise a visit to see if the proposed place is in conformity with the criteria.

As for the review on the zone itself, it is still maintained at a controlled access due to the extent of the damage which makes it a hazardous environment and the necessary precautions have to be taken into consideration before the zone is opened.

“We want to limit the risks for clients who walk into the Providence shops, as well as the staff so that we do not register any other injuries,” she stated. 

Minister Vidot acknowledged that the amount of destruction means that Providence will not instantly go back to how it was before. However, if operations could resume with a plywood on the door and the windows, then it was satisfactory. The area also has to be clean and clear of any debris. There is also the element of fire safety and general safety requirements that should be in place, she said.

There is also security presence at the zone to maintain law and order and to ensure there was no theft or vandalism. So far, there have been no reports of theft in the area.

There is a high level assessment that has been done on the zone to look at the buildings and their state and Minister Vidot explained that the authorities have been able to confirm that there are certain buildings that have been affected a lot.

The proprietors of those buildings will be contacted throughout the day to discuss what measures could be taken and how they can move forward. They are being encouraged to seek a private engineer to evaluate their property.

“This is important to take decisions in regards to their workers and when they restart their businesses.”

The ministry was also making provisions for businesses that have found an alternate location for operation to assess their losses and immediate assistance.

Meanwhile, the minister confirmed that other companies using explosives for quarrying work have already started to relocate the explosives to other secure locations to reduce the risk of a similar incident.

Minister Vidot, on behalf of the Ministry of Investment, Entrepreneurship and Industry, concluded the press conference by stating they stand in solidarity with those who have suffered during the tragedies and were doing everything possible to help where possible.

Also present were the chief executive of IEA, Thelma Estico; chief executive of SIA, Jitesh Shah and chief executive of the Planning Authority, Angela Servina.

The accompanying photos taken by Patrick Joubert show some of the buildings in the Providence Industrial Estate after the December 7 disaster.


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