STATEMENT BY MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS AND WORKS
HONOURABLE MARK VANTERPOOL AT PRESS CONFERENCE
TRAINING DIVISION CONFERENCE ROOM
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 3, 2016
New Year Report: The Interest Of The Future
Fellow residents of the Virgin Islands, my media friends…
Let me add my personal welcome to all of you gathered here today and those who would be watching, listening and reading this in the media.
It’s not too late, I don’t think, to wish you all, a very Happy and Prosperous New Year 2016, on behalf of the staff at the Ministry of Communications and Works, the constituents of the Fourth Electoral District and my extended family.
As a Government and as a people, we have come through 2015, having overcome many a challenge, but we can also be very proud of the many advancements that we have made.
Today, along with my senior staff and other officials, we will provide an update on the seven major areas under the portfolio of the Ministry of Communications and Works.
These include Water, Sewerage, Telecommunications, Roads, City, Energy and Sea Ports.
As part of the ongoing improvements to the Water Distribution Network, Government signed a contract with Aqua Designs for the upgrade of the water plant on Virgin Gorda, in October 2015.
The upgrades to that facility should be completed within the next few months.
On Tortola, we have completed the loop system on McNamara, to ensure we are able to supply upper and lower McNamara with water on a sustained basis.
We have increased the size of the booster pumps at Diamond Estate, which has allowed us to distribute water to Cane Garden Bay and Sea Cow’s Bay, simultaneously.
We continue to experience some challenges with broken pipes in Sea Cow’s Bay and along the Ridge Road.
We will continue to repair these broken pipes as they arise.
We crave your patience, as from time to time, we have had to and will have to turn off the water in the area, to carry out the necessary repairs.
The Water and Sewerage Department intends to move forward with the expansion of the distribution network through Brewers Bay and into Havers and will continue to look at and expand the network in other areas.
Ladies and gentlemen, you would agree that our Government has made significant progress towards alleviating the sewerage problem on Tortola.
The Sewerage Treatment Plant in Road Town is now fully operational and sewerage is being treated to a tertiary level, which is, environmentally, a lot safer and cleaner.
The focus of the National Sewerage Programme is now on completion of the sewerage project in East End/Long Look.
The Sewerage Treatment Plant at Paraquita Bay has passed the inspection test and we are proceeding with the installation of force mains from Long Swamp to Paraquita Bay.
Once completed, this will allow for the connection of households, later in this year.
The Ministry of Communications and Works also intends to revisit and possibly revamp the sewerage network within Cane Garden Bay, to accommodate a new design, which will require fewer pumps and facilitate greater connections of properties in the area.
We expect all sewerage works within the City to be completed by the end of the first quarter of this year, including the completion of force mains and the commissioning of the Road Town Pump Station.
Telecommunications Regulatory Unit
As Minister for Communications and Works, I continue to encourage the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC), to work with all licensed operators, to ensure that the Territory can benefit from far greater broadband speeds.
This is crucial to the viability of the twin pillars of our economy – Financial Services and Tourism and also would be of tremendous benefit to those of us living here as well.
More optimal broadband speeds are available globally and we must be able to benefit from this technology locally as well and also at more affordable prices.
The Ministry of Communications and Works, through the Public Works Department, continues to execute our Major Road Improvement and Development Programme.
The works involve the installation of kerbs, slipper drains, sidewalks and edge of road; lengthening of culverts; construction of manholes and road paving.
We have completed and continue road works from East End to West End on Tortola, including Spring Ghut to Belle Vue, Carrot Bay, Slaney to Sea Cow’s Bay and Soldier’s Hill to Windy Hill.
On Anegada, roads works are being done in The Settlement, Salt Heap Point and towards Cow Wreck, covering approximately 3 miles.
On Virgin Gorda, road improvement works including sidewalks on Millionaire road continue. Improvement of drainage and resurfacing of Waldo road is set to start within the second quarter of this year. Lee Road Phase I is expected to be retendered shortly, while Phase II which includes drainage, sidewalks and resurfacing of Lee Road, from the Catholic Community Centre to Pump Well will also begin within the second quarter of this year.
On Jost Van Dyke, we intend to move forward with drainage improvement works from Rudy’s Bar and Restaurant through to Foxy’s Restaurant, Bottom Road. Discussions are also underway to improve the road, drainage and the parking area at the Dog Hole Jetty.
We have spent a total of $6.8 million so far on the Territory-wide Road Improvement Project and we expect to continue road works on the East End/Long Look area down to Paraquita Bay, following the sewerage improvement works.
We will also be completing the Sea Cow’s Bay sidewalks and road realignment from Duffs Bottom to the Ebenezer Thomas Primary School and down to Pockwood Pond, following the BVI Electricity Corporation’s Phase V transmission line installation phase.
Ladies and gentlemen, to improve the road infrastructure in the Territory and to ensure the continued safety of our road network, we continue to execute projects under the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) Loan funded projects.
We recently awarded two projects to Quality Construction for Reconstruction of Road and Slope Stabilization in Huntum’s Ghut and Autland Heavy Equipment Company Limited for Drainage Solution and Road and Rehabilitation Works in Long Trench.
The latest contract, signed earlier this month, under the CDB Infrastructure Rehabilitation Loan Project, was with joint venture G-Unit/Junior Mathias, for Road &and Drainage Improvement works at Nottingham Estate.
For 2016, we expect to complete infrastructure works in the Capital City of Road Town, including sewerage works and road improvements.
We also hope to start the Main Street Rehabilitation and Focus, once we have consulted with the public and key stakeholders in the area.
The maintenance of the City continues to be a challenge and we intend to address this immediately, in conjunction with the City Manager and the Solid Waste Department, to ensure that the City is kept clean at all times.
Also in Road Town, we would like to address our parking issues with proposals for multi-level parking facilities to be advanced.
The British Virgin Islands Electricity Corporation (BVIEC) continues to operate under a slim reserve margin.
We saw an increase of approximately 9MW added to our total system demand in 2015, including Biwater’s Water and Sewerage Treatment Plants, Tortola Pier Park, Mooney Bay Development and Clarence Thomas Limited’s new store development.
This increase has brought our peak demand to 33.7MW for 2015.
We have since commenced our Phase V Development Programme, which would give us an additional 26.1MW of capacity.
The Phase V Power Development Programme comprises two packages:
Package A is the Generation contract, which remains on track for delivery of the first two engines in April of this year.
Package A also includes excavation works to facilitate expansion of the Power Station at Pockwood Pond, which is now 90% complete.
Package B is the Transmission and Distribution contract, which comprises a second transmission line connecting Pockwood Pond to Long Bush, via the Paul P. Wattley Road.
This is expected to be completed by the second quarter of 2016.
The two engines will be online at the end of December 2016 and with the addition of the third generator, the overall BVIEC Phase V Power Development Programme will be complete in February 2017.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Government of the Virgin Islands, through the Ministry of Communications and Works, is working on the implementation of an Energy Policy for the Territory.
As a Government, we have forged ahead with a number of initiatives towards this end, including modernizing and approving legislation governing energy development and implementing various conservation methods and Renewable Energy systems.
We are also encouraging the installation of solar water heaters and Light Emitting Diodes or LEDs, in residential homes and corporate buildings.
The Government of the BVI is expected to realize operational savings with the conversion.
We also expect to see savings with a streetlights programme, replacing the traditional streetlights with solar or LEDs, which has already begun in the Capital.
The first 50 solar streetlights earmarked to be installed in Tortola, from Pockwood Pond to West End, on Virgin Gorda between North Sound and Handsome Bay, on Jost Van Dyke and Anegada, have already been shipped.
We expect delivery in BVI to be towards the end of February and installation before the end of April.
Homeowners will also now be able to realize savings through Net Metering/Net Billing, which allows licensed entities to generate their own power, feeding unused excess power which they produce, back into the National Grid.
In the meantime, preparations for implementation of the Renewable Energy components, are ongoing.
Legislation to incorporate Renewable Energy was approved by the House of Assembly in mid-2015.
We are continuing our work with the Attorney General’s Chambers to complete the Regulations, so that installations can be brought online in an organized manner.
We expect this to be completed before the end of April 2016.
A workshop was held here on January 12th, to kick off the data gathering from local stakeholders, as it relates to constituent parts of a comprehensive Energy Policy for the Virgin Islands.
A second workshop is to be held sometime early in April, with the final policy to be completed towards the end of April.
A Public Education campaign has commenced, to educate the public on the benefits of lifestyle changes, to reduce energy consumption.
Energy tips started to run on local radio stations since November 2015 and this is to be augmented by visits to public schools later this month, to educate students on energy conservation techniques.
Ladies and gentlemen, the overall aim of our Government's Energy Policy, is to diversify the way we produce our energy and reduce consumption of electricity by some 30 percent, by the year 2023.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am very pleased with what we have achieved with the Cruise Pier and Tortola Pier Park Development so far.
We embarked on a project to strengthen, widen and lengthen the existing cruise pier to accommodate ships with a tonnage of up to 180,000 Gross Registered Tonnage (GRT) and the development of the landside to include a welcome shopping centre.
The marine side was completed and the landside is nearing completion, with a Grand Opening scheduled for Tuesday February 16th, 2016.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Tortola Pier Park has already begun to yield positive economic results and our Government is confident it will produce strong economic results in many areas, now and in the future, to benefit the Territory of the Virgin Islands.
I will speak a little more towards the end about the estimated cost versus the final costs, but for now, my very abled Project Manager Mr. Dion Stoutt, will provide a further breakdown of the work being done at Tortola Pier Park.
Ladies and gentlemen, as the Minister responsible for Sea Ports, I remain very proud of this project and reiterate that the people of the Virgin Islands have gotten value for money with this project.
I am very pleased to welcome you all, to attend the Official Opening Ceremony of the Tortola Pier Park, on Tuesday February 16th, 2016 at 5:15pm.
I now turn it over to Mr. Stoutt who will have more detailed information on the project construction.
Ladies and gentlemen, I wish to place on record my gratitude to the wonderful staff at the Ministry of Communications and Works and its various Departments, Units and Divisions.
Thank you for your hard work and dedication to duty, under challenging conditions many times.
I encourage you to stay committed to the task ahead.
We have a lot of work still to accomplish.
Thank you also to all of the other Government Departments we work very closely with to carry out our mandate.
Let us always remember that our overall objective, is to make these beautiful Virgin Islands a better place for us and our children, fellow residents and visitors, to live, work and vacation.
I thank you the public for coming here today, for listening, watching and reading via the media.
We crave your continued patience, as we, at the Ministry of Communications and Works, continue to do our part to develop the public infrastructure of the Virgin Islands.
May God continue to bless these our beautiful Virgin Islands.