STATEMENT BY DEPUTY PREMIER AND MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS AND WORKS HONOURABLE KYE M. RYMER
AT THE SIXTH SITTING OF THE FOURTH HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY OF THE VIRGIN ISLANDS UPDATE ON MINISTRY PROJECTS
Thursday 21st, July 2022
Road Town City Improvement
Madam Speaker, I rise to give this Honourable House an update on a few projects currently being undertaken by my Ministry, Communications and Works. In consideration of the fact that the territory has faced many challenges recently, I would like to take this opportunity to share what the Ministry of Communications and Works has been able to accomplish as we continue to rise above the many obstacles that have been thrown at us.
The Ministry is moving ahead decisively towards a greener, safer, and more pedestrian-friendly City of Road Town. We have seen all the electric-powered shuttles moving around the City and accomplishing the intended purpose; making the City more pedestrian friendly.
The Park & Ride Shuttle Service has been in operation since 7th February, 2022. During the first three months of operation, the shuttle service has transported over Twenty Thousand (20,000) passengers throughout the City of Road Town. The shuttles continue to loop around the city centre, from the Red Cross Building to the Hospital area every fifteen (15) minutes, starting at 7:00 a.m. and ending at 6:00 p.m. from Monday to Friday. I continue to encourage everyone to park their vehicles and ride the free service around the town. Our aim is to reduce vehicle congestion and reduce the territory’s carbon footprint.
We are now in the process of adding another component to the greener, safer, more pedestrian-friendly efforts by way of solar-powered crosswalk signals. Through the Public Works Department, we are installing five sets of solar-powered crosswalk signage that flashes to get the attention of the on-coming traffic, thus bringing awareness to the drivers that a pedestrian is intending to cross the street. There is also a feature that verbally cautions pedestrians before stepping onto the busy street. These systems will be installed in some of the more high-traffic areas in the city namely the Sir Olva Georges Plaza, Waterfront Drive close to Clover’s, and DeCastro Street in the vicinity of Bobby’s Supermarket and the Republic Bank.
Madam Speaker, I would like to quickly mention while still on the matter of “greening” our territory, that the “BVI Going Green Initiative” which was announced on 27th August, 2021, is still very much in effect. This particular initiative, which ends in August 2023, came from an amendment to the Customs Management and Duties Act. It makes provision for residents of the Virgin Islands to achieve significant savings by adopting or transitioning to going green, and renewable energy sources such as solar, wind energy, and electric, which includes vehicles.
All items imported under these categories will be zero import duty for this period. I am therefore urging citizens and residents to take advantage of this opportunity by making full use of this two-year duty-free window.
National Sewerage Project
Madam Speaker, the proper treatment of sewerage in the Virgin Islands has always been a matter of concern. However, notwithstanding these issues that we have faced in the past, I stand here today to report that over the past couple of years we have made significant progress implementing needed resolutions. The Ministry is currently upgrading the sewerage system in the city of Road Town. The works are being carried out on upper Main Street and Fleming Street. This project is slated to be completed in about two to three weeks. Madam Speaker I am happy to inform this Honourable House that this project is at its halfway towards completion. This new pipework will facilitate the increase in sewerage that is expected to emanate from the Social Security housing project on Jose Hill and other newly constructed commercial and residential buildings in the area.
The main pump station in the vicinity of the roundabout will also be upgraded with brand new sewerage pumps and other necessary equipment to effectively move the sewerage from the central catchment area to the treatment plant in Burt Point which will be brought back on line in the first quarter of 2023. The contract to commence the necessary repairs will be signed later this month between the Government and BiWater.
Madam Speaker, I am indeed elated to report that the Cane Garden Bay Community now has an upgraded wastewater treatment plant that was commissioned earlier this week, on 19 July, 2022. This is the first phase of the overall upgrade of the sewerage network system in this area. The second phase, which will upgrade the sewerage network bringing the influent to the plant, is expected to commence in the first quarter of 2023.
I am also pleased to report that works are ongoing on the East End/Long Look (EE/LL) Sewerage upgrade. The benching and sealing of the manholes are just about completed and installation of the laterals is expected to commence later this week.
The works on the upgrade of the EE/LL sewerage system continues with the installation of the sewer line commencing at the Sticket and terminating on the main road in the vicinity of the bus stop in Fat Hogs Bay. This has been a long outstanding matter for decades and we are determined and resolute in our current position that sewerage issues in the low-lying areas of the East End and Long Look communities must be fixed.
These improvements, unfortunately, will come with some “growing pains”, as it were. I refer specifically to the disruption in the traffic flow and the potholes created as a result of uncovering manholes and other relevant connection points, as we go about this work.
You can be assured that we will do everything in our reach to minimize these inconveniences by engaging in a robust road reinstatement program. In the midst of it, I ask for the understanding and patience of the residents of the East End/Long Look (EE/LL) communities and everyone who traverse these areas.
National Water Improvement Programme
Madam Speaker, the people of the Virgin Islands have been crying out and asking for solutions as it relates to the water woes that we are currently facing. These issues are many, from an aged old distribution system that breaks frequently, to an unforgiving terrain when it comes to managing and maintaining the necessary pressures to pump water to higher elevations. I want the citizens of this Territory to know that my team and I are doing everything within the realm of possibility and budgetary constraints to address each and every issue that is raised. We have resolved to replace the aged old distribution work by changing out the PVC pipes and replacing them with the more resilient HDPE pipes. The idea here is that over time the system would have been upgraded.
This process of changing out the pipes, especially in the areas that experience breakages, is being carefully balanced with the myriad of complaints being received ranging from lack of water to incorrect billing. Again I ask for patience and understanding, and I assure you that your concerns will be addressed.
Madam Speaker, as we are currently in the 2022 hurricane season, the Ministry, through the Public Works Department (PWD) and the Water and Sewerage Department (WSD), is prepared. The Public Works Department Road crew is in full throttle readying the Territory by ensuring that all drains and ghuts are cleared of debris. This helps in mitigating the adverse effects of heavy rainfalls that can cause flooding. The Water and Sewerage Department is doing everything to ensure that the water reservoirs are sufficiently filled to mitigate the adverse effects of hurricane force winds. The challenges are many; however, we move steadfastly and speedily, tempered with an abundance of caution, into the future rebuilding the infrastructure of our beloved Virgin Islands.
Road Network Improvement - Fish Bay Road Works (RDA)
Madam Speaker, I wish to provide an update on the Fish Bay Road. The Fish Bay Road is now awaiting asphalt; the tender is currently in the evaluation stage of the RDA’s procurement process. I therefore crave your indulgence as I provide a report on the progress we have made.
The achievements of this project are as follows:
- Demolition of One Thousand Six hundred and Seven point two feet (1,607.2 ft.) of box drains and One thousand and Twenty-Six Point Sixty-Four feet (1,026.64 ft.) of asphalt.
- Construction of Three Thousand One Hundred and Thirty-Two Point Four feet (3,132.4 ft.) of reinforced concrete box drains with metal grills and gratings
- Building of Five Hundred and Forty-One Point Two feet (541.2 ft.) of reinforced kerb and slipper drains
- One Thousand Five Hundred and Forty-One Point Six feet (1,541.6 ft.) of full road reconstruction with Four Hundred and Ninety-Two feet (492 ft.) thick reinforced concrete
- Demolition of an existing culvert, replacing it with a larger and wider one
- Rehabilitation of a smaller existing culvert
- Reinforced concrete catch basins
- Construction of Ninety-Five Point Twelve feet (95.12 ft.) of retaining wall
- Seven Hundred and Thirty-Eight feet (738 ft.) of raised reinforced concrete sidewalks
- Supply and installation of a new water line for WSD
The new reinforced road is designed and built stronger to accommodate the heavier trucks used in the area and, once completed with asphalt, will provide a safer and smoother ride for all drivers. The new culvert, is ten times (10x) larger than the design requirement, along with some additional dredging at the channel between Skelton Bay Lot and CTL will prevent major flooding in this area. The water pipeline upgrades on behalf of the Water and Sewerage Department showed a cohesive approach to executing major road works while maintaining the integrity of the project.
Once all the above works are completed, a new asphalt road surface will be applied with painting and markings to increase road safety and guarantee a smooth ride for motorists. The Fish Bay Road Rehabilitation Project is expected to mitigate against flooding in the area, provide better drainage and a better road surface. These works should not only improve the road safety but also reduce the impact caused by heavy rains in the area.
I will like to publicly thank the RDA and the contractor, Autland Heavy Equipment Co Ltd. for their pursuit of excellence in executing this major road project and for working diligently with, the Ministry of Communications and Works, through the Permanent Secretary to get the job done. Also worthy of mention is the strong relationship coordinated between the Permanent Secretary and the team from the Water and Sewerage Department in collaborating with the RDA and the contractor for the upgrade and installation of the water pipeline.
Madam Speaker, I thank you.