Remarks by Honourable Kye Rymer
Minister for Transportation, Works and Utilities
National Sewerage Project
Re-Commission of the Works for East End/Long Look
October, 30th 2020
Good Afternoon everyone,
The month of October has been a remarkable month of many milestones for our beautiful Virgin Islands. The Ministry of Transportation Works and Utilities has embarked on a journey to commence many initiatives to improve the quality of life in our beloved Territory.
On October 12th, we broke grounds to commence development works at the Road Town Market Square. A week later, we held another ground breaking ceremony to commence the construction of an Economic Zone in Huntum’s Ghut. As we end the month, today marks another great day as we assemble here to officially relaunch the East End/Long Look Sewerage Project.
This initiative is a pivotal step in remedying the sewerage woes that have plagued this community for decades. Today’s ceremony ushers in a new era of a cleaner and healthier environment for the people in the communities of this part of the island.
The recommencement of the National Sewerage Programme of East End/Long Look has been long anticipated by the residents and businesses, and so, your Government of the Virgin Islands has made this project a key priority to complete and commission.
Looking back, you would remember that this project was identified by the residents of East End and Long Look as high on the list of priorities, during the campaign leading to the General Elections of February 2019. This Government team, of which I am a part gave our commitment to you, the people of East End/Long Look, that we would make your priority our priority. Your Government is here today to keep yet another promise made to the people of the BVI.
The National Sewerage Programme – East End/Long Look project has been around for a very long time. Research has shown that this project is even older than I am.
In an article published in the Beacon newspaper in 2016, it was said that this project “commenced when her Majesty’s Stationer’s Office published a booklet on the government’s agenda for 1974, which included plans for a national sewerage treatment plant. Since then, delays and other problems have plagued the project’s progress, with goals for a national sewerage programme repeatedly falling short.”
In 2002, a master plan was drafted to implement the programme and for many other years after that, many attempts have continued to fail for various reasons. It is with pride and confidence and with God’s grace and blessings that I stand here today as the Minster who intends on seeing this project through to completion.
Your Government strongly agrees with you that it is time to stop kicking the can down the road and remedy the sewerage issues in the East End/Long Look area. The current state of the sewerage system in the East End/Long Look area is evidently overwhelmed with, failing private septic systems that eventually make their way to the public roadways and drains. Having a working public sewerage system, will no doubt resolve the ongoing challenge; of wastewater running through our communities while mitigating possible health-related complications due to the insanitary conditions that now exist.
To achieve such a system, the project will be undertaken in three phases to be completed hopefully by the end of 2021:
• Phase 1 – We will execute preliminary works to include the preparation of a staging area and the procurement of pertinent material and equipment. During this phase, we will also be undertaking a household assessment of the required residential connections. The purpose of this assessment is to obtain specific data as to the type of waste generated, the household demands based on the number of bathrooms, and the most suitable location for connection to the public sewerage system among other general requirements.
Community engagement is vital, so we will meet directly with the residents and businesses in the specific areas, where the works will be done to assess viable access to homes and businesses. Finally, in phase 1, we will be placing signs throughout the community to identify areas where roads will be closed and the alternate roads that can be taken.
• Phase 2 – We will focus on the installation of gravity lines, pumping mains and house lateral pipe laying, manhole, and pump stations. This will be done between the communities of Parham Town to Paraquita Bay. Your Government of the Virgin Islands will continue to seek to ensure cost savings measures on this project and ensure conformity to the material specification requirements; therefore we will be directly procuring the materials, equipment and appurtenances.
• Phase 3 – We will conduct an assessment and repair the effluent outfall lines in Brandywine Bay and execute the repairs and Commission of Paraquita Bay Wastewater Treatment Plant. This plant was constructed in 2016 but suffered damages from Irma and Maria in 2017 before it could be commissioned.
During phase 3, the sludge drying beds will be established also in the Paraquita Bay area. It is forecasted that the Project will be completed within twelve (12) months, paving the way for full commissioning and operation of the East End/Long Look sewerage system. The Project will be managed through internal Government resources within the Ministry of Transportation, Works and Utilities and supplemented by local external resources. The overall strategy of the programme will require the Government to undertake the procurement and supply of material and equipment for the Project for implementation and installation by local contractors.
With the advent of the Covid-19 global pandemic, construction work and its related activities have been used as an avenue to boost the economy of the Virgin Islands.
To explain, funds that are available to the Government are being invested into construction projects where they can return infrastructure that will be able to benefit the people of the Territory, long after the funds are spent. These projects allow us to be able to create jobs and to support businesses in the construction sector. The beneficiaries of this job creation will have an income to care for their families. They will also be able to support other businesses such as supermarkets etc. where further job creation and economic activity will be able to take place.
On 14th October Cabinet approved the implementation of the East End /Long Look Sewage Project in accordance with Regulation 170 of the Public Finance Management (Amendment) Regulations 2020; A policy on Procurement in Emergency, Disaster, Pandemic, and Catastrophic Situations. This has allowed us to execute this project with a mixture of work orders, petty contracts, and major contracts. By this approach, we are able to spread the opportunities to a wider cross-section of companies.
The management team within the Ministry of Transportation, Works and Utilities in consultation with the Ministry of Finance will obtain, via the Contractor Database, a list of contractors to undertake the diverse work programmes.
I take this opportunity now to continue to advocate and ask contractors that are interested in participating in work programmes such as this, and any other work programme to be undertaken by the Government of the Virgin Islands, to register with the Ministry of Finance.
The Ministry of Transportation, Works and Utilities has developed a comprehensive strategic plan to undertake the various phases, tasks, and activities towards the successful implementation and commissioning of the National Sewerage Programme here in East End and Long Look.
One of the greatest risks to any large-scale project is having the necessary funding to undertake the project towards completion. Today, I am grateful that the Honourable Premier and Minister of Finance, Honourable Andrew A. Fahie and the Cabinet of the Virgin Islands for approving the required funding in the amount of Six Million, One Hundred and Forty-two thousand, Five hundred Dollars ($6,142,500.00) to finance this project.
The communication and traffic management plan has been developed and will be launched to educate the general public and in particular, the residents who will be directly impacted by the works. We intend to hold several community meetings in keeping with the Covid-19 guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health and Social Development, to advise and update the community on the progress of works and the areas where works, will begin. We will also be working with the Department of Information and Public Relations (GIS) to ensure that information is effectively disseminated and also to produce an interactive map of the East End/Long Look area where works are ongoing and will begin.
We do anticipate that some members of the community will be inconvenienced once the works commence and we are asking for your patience as we seek to complete this critical infrastructural project for you the residents of the Seventh and Eighth Districts.
I am happy that we have reached this juncture where we can recommission this project and finally deliver the long-promised Sewerage Programme to the people of the Seventh and Eighth Districts.
I do not take this project lightly; it is long overdue for completion and so today, I take this opportunity to pledge my commitment to this community and the Territory at large, and to reiterate the commitment of the Honourable Premier and his entire Government, to see this critical project through to completion.
May God continue to bless us all and these beautiful Virgin Islands. Thank you.