Good day Virgin Islanders and residents. Today on my daily brief, I am pleased to share with you an update on progress we have made thus far, following the passage of hurricanes Irma and Maria.
One of the major announcements and noteworthy symbol of restoration is the resumption of commercial flight operations at the Terrence B. Lettsome International Airport on Monday, October 2. This is an important step in returning the Territory to its pre-Irma state and is a reflection of the level of work and dedication, by the BVI Airports Authority along with military personnel and others who worked to rectify issues caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. We look forward to welcoming home Virgin Islanders who would like to assist with the recovery efforts as well as residents and skilled workers.
As we move towards rebuilding, both public and private agencies have been assessing damages to the Territory under a comprehensive disaster management strategy as we plan our reconstruction. Based on initial assessments, we have identified the following areas as high priority areas:
- Wholesale and Retail Trade including motor vehicles repair
- Transportation and storage
- Information and communications
- Public administration and Defence
- Human health and social work
- Debris/Waste management
We continue to look at accommodations and food services as well as finance and insurance as areas of ongoing importance and support to help residents get back to normalcy. Initial calculations show that approximately 22.5 percent of the Territory’s population has been displaced. I again ask property owners and landlords to take advantage of opportunities such as the loan reprieves by the Territory’s banks, the waiving of customs duties for rebuilding supplies and the relaxed labour and immigration policies to contract skilled labourers to jumpstart the rebuilding process and secure housing for residents.
Skilled workers can enter the Territory via the Terrance B. Lettsome Airport, the West End Jetty, Tortola Pier Park Tender Dock and directly to Virgin Gorda via the St Thomas Bay Jetty. Persons entering the country for recovery and relief purposes must indicate so upon arrival and provide the name and contact details of their employer, intended length of stay in the Territory and their occupation.
As we continue our efforts to restore essential services, we note the improvements on the sister islands. Electrical supply has been restored on our sister island of Virgin Gorda and we thank the BVI Electricity Corporation for their tireless efforts in this unprecedented accomplishment. We owe them a debt of gratitude for their commitment and I know they will continue to work earnestly to ensure electrical supply is restored through the Territory. Undoubtedly, it is the combined efforts of our local, regional and international partners that has enabled us to accomplish so much in such a short time.
To help us continue along this journey of rebuilding, public officers are reminded that they are to check in daily with their supervisors for assignments on projects in support of our recovery and rebuilding efforts. Work hours are now 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. until further notice.
We remain grateful for the continued support from our local, regional and international partners who are committed to providing much needed support throughout this period. To Virgin Islanders and residents, as we start this new month, let’s recommit ourselves to the task of rebuilding our great Territory and let us continue to remain, BVI Strong.