Seychelles Asbestos Scandal
On May 15, 2012, a news bulletin was broadcast which confirmed that asbestos, a substance banned in the Seychelles since 2005, had been used in the construction of the Perseverance Housing Project on Mahé, the largest island of the Seychelles and home to roughly 90% of the country's population. The admission by the Minister of Housing Christian Lionnet that the Public Private Partnership responsible for construction had broken the law came about as a result of a public outcry which followed an exposé in the private newspaper Seychelles Weekly.
The planning and construction of the Perseverance Housing Project is a high profile initiative with much-lauded goals including the creation of an affordable, functional and sustainable community with an exemplary comfort level built in collaboration with future inhabitants; the use of asbestos made a mockery of these objectives.1
Responding to an enquiry made by IBAS, Dr. Jude Gedeon, the Public Health Commissioner of the Seychelles, confirmed on May 22 that the Government had taken the allegations regarding the use of asbestos very seriously. To establish the facts of the matter, the Ministry of Land Use and Housing, in collaboration with the Public Health Department and the Ministry of Environment, commissioned an analysis of the alleged asbestos material and established that: the fibre cement boards being used on 147 housing units that are still under construction and unoccupied, contain the mineral Chrysotile, despite the fact that all the specifications for the project had stipulated that non-asbestos fibre board be used.
The Minister told IBAS that:
Given the result (of these tests), the contractor on the project has been informed that the asbestos cement board must be removed under strict Public health guidelines and re-exported to a country that has the capability to receive and dispose of the material safely . The necessary action is being taken against the importer of same and for giving falsifying information to the authorities. The construction site is now under joint jurisdiction of the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Land Use and Housing.
May 22, 2012