Statement by Honourable Kye Rymer
Minister for Transportation, Works, and Utilities
At the Twelfth Sitting of the Second Session of the Fourth
House of Assembly of the Virgin Islands
July 10th, 2020
On Ministry Update
Mister Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to provide an update on my Ministry. Over the past months I have provided updates as they relate to physical projects, but today I want to speak on the ministry’s legislation and policy framework which is currently afoot and will improve the operational efficiency of my Ministry.
Mister Speaker, the Ministry of Transportation, Works and Utilities in collaboration with the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force is making some amendments to the Road Traffic Act which was last amended in 2011; these amendments seek mainly to increase the penalties for various road offenses that are caused by motorists indiscriminately violating the regulations governing the roadways. It is our hope that these increases will be a deterrent to motorists contravening the law thereby increasing the overall safety on the roadways. The amendments will touch areas such as; parking in a no-parking zone; reckless or dangerous driving; driving without due care to other users of the road, use of license plates on a vehicle to which it was not assigned, Riders operating Motorcycle without helmets, etc.
Mister Speaker, we have been experiencing some challenges over the years with our sewerage and water systems but I stand here today to assure this Honourable House and the citizens of this Territory that we are at full throttle conceptualizing and implementing corrective measures. Whilst there are many practical things happening on the ground to improve the water supply we are also ensuring a robust legislative and policy framework that will govern the water supply system in a more efficient manner. The proposed legislation will speak to the constant review of the quality, reliability, and availability of water supply. It is critical that the quality of the water supply remains at international standards; therefore, this will be the oversight of the Ministry of Health and Social Development. The legislation will also require persons to obtain a license to operate within the sewerage system whether it be in the collection, transportation, and disposing of sewerage or wastewater.
Mister Speaker, we are also bringing forward a Fats, Oil, and Grease (F.O.G.) policy that will facilitate the maximum beneficial public use of the sewer system while preventing blockages and overflows resulting from fats, oil, and grease going into the system. This policy will require food service establishments, garages, and industrial facilities to install the requisite equipment for the proper disposal of F.O.G. before it gets into the sewerage system. This policy will also establish the quantity and quality standards on all wastewater contacting F.O.G. accumulation going into the sewer system that can cause or contribute to the occurrence of insanitary sewer overflows and blockages.
Mister Speaker, we are also working on a certification programme at the DMV for the driving schools which will establish a minimum number of years driving as well as having a clean driving record to be qualified as a driving instructor. This policy will also include the number of hours that each student must log before being allowed to take the cone and driving tests. The policy will also allow for persons to be taught by private persons, but the number of hours would vary.
Mister Speaker, through the Virgin Islands Fire and Rescue Service, we have been pleading with the citizenry of the Territory to cease and desist from open burning which can result in uncontrollable wildfires, not to mention health issues. Specifically, we are cautioning persons that the following are our basic concerns and should be avoided at all cost: spreading and becoming a wildfire; creating a health hazard; causing air pollution; becoming a public nuisance; and adversely affecting the community’s aesthetic value. In order to eliminate open burning and to encourage other methods of disposal, we are in the process of moving a policy through to Cabinet for approval. However, when open burning is permitted by the Fire Service, provisions must be made for the most efficient combustion possible for the material to be burned. The Policy Document will thus address and encourage the safe and proper management of open burning, with a view towards advancing the guidelines enshrined in the policy to legislation.