STATEMENT BY HONOURABLE KYE RYMER
DEPUTY PREMIER OF THE VIRGIN ISLANDS AND
MINISTER FOR TRANSPORTATION, WORKS AND UTILITIES
UPDATES HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY ON PROGRESS OF MINISTERIAL PORTFOLIO
TUESDAY 16 JULY, 2019
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to report to this Honourable House on the progress of my ministerial portfolio since I took office. The Ministry of Transportation, Works and Utilities (MTWU), formerly known as Communications and Works, is responsible for several key departments, units and statutory bodies.
Mr. Speaker, Key policy areas being addressed are:
• Addressing the current restriction on the importation of motor cycles over 125 cc engine size, so the limit can be increased.
Mr. Speaker I am pleased to report that a draft Cabinet Paper is in circulation and will be presented to Cabinet shortly seeking approval for the official drafting of amendments to the relevant legislation.
• Revamping the public transportation system, more specifically, the Community Bus system, so that a reliable and affordable means of transportation can be in place for island wide coverage on Tortola.
Once this pilot is successful, we intend to model it on Virgin Gorda as the first sister island to follow.
Mr. Speaker I am pleased to report that I led a delegation to our Sister Overseas Territory Bermuda. This trip Mr. Speaker was arranged to experience and gather useful information behind the seventy (70) year history of their public bus transportation services along with their daily operations, pros and cons of having such a system and the benefits to their community.
I must report that my findings from this trip have provided much useful insight on the way forward with improving the BVI’s public transportation service.
Mr. Speaker in the near future the people of the Virgin Islands can expect to see the completion of signs and bus stop shelters across the island as we seek to partner with the private sector and other Non-profit Organisations and move towards creating a multimodal transportation network in the BVI.
Taxi and Livery Commission
Mr. Speaker, critical to the success of these Virgin Islands is our transportation-for-hire industry. This industry is currently being regulated by the Taxi and Livery Commission comprised of a secretariat, board and Director. The commission is not without its challenges given the financial constraints. However, I must acknowledge the efforts of Mr. Dameion Percival who has served as Director since 2012 and will demit office at the end of month (July).
We have embarked on a series of meetings with the operators who are the biggest stakeholders in the industry.
Mr. Speaker, there continues to be issues which are easy to fix once our operators commit to working in a professional unified environment where they not only give their best to the passengers they transport but respect their fellow operators.
In the era we are in Mr. Speaker, may I remind the operators that both the good and the bad make it around the world via social media – so let us always put our best forward.
The Rehabilitation Of The Palm Grove Shopping Centre
Mr. Speaker, the area where the Palm Grove Shopping Centre used to be, leaves a void in the heart of our capital. However, I am proud to announce that the public can expect to see publicized, a request for Expressions of Interest in the coming days, asking for persons to formally submit their interest, to partner with the Government of the Virgin Islands to rebuild a modern Palm Grove Shopping Centre.
Mass Transit Parking Facility
Further, Mr. Speaker, my Ministry is preparing Tender Documents to build a Mass Parking facility, which will be located at the festival grounds and which will accommodate up to 270 vehicles.
Mr. Speaker, it is important to note the August Festival Village and the parking facility will co-exist. Additionally, Mr. Speaker, an affordable shuttle service will be put in place to shuttle residents into Town from the Festival Grounds.
Mr. Speaker, the aim of this project is to reduce parking congestion in the Capital as we aim to make the Capital a more pedestrian-friendly city, while promoting, ease of movement for all our people.
Public Works Department
Mr. Speaker, the Public Works Department is actively changing its organizational model to be a more proactive agency. Mr. Speaker, the department, in conjunction with my Ministry, is developing programmes that will progressively improve the territory’s infrastructure.
Mr. Speaker, preparations have begun to conduct a comprehensive analysis toward raising and widening of sidewalks throughout Road Town while improving the drainage.
Mr. Speaker, the PWD in conjunction with the Disaster Management Department will be developing an improved pre-disaster and post disaster response model. Mr. Speaker, this model will outline for the department steps to be taken to ready the territory’s infrastructure for the seasonal weather changes such as hurricanes and rainy season, Mr. Speaker, this is all with the aim of having the road networks ready to manage excess water and develop preventative programmes to mitigate avoidable damage such as undermining to our road network.
It is our intention to manage and delegate the resources according to the known needs to minimize and reduce damage to the road network by ensuring that ghuts and drains etc. are cleared, flowing and can accommodate their peak volumes at all times.
Public Works Department (PWD) has taken considerable steps in continuing to be the Government’s main technical advisor in relation to the infrastructure of the territory since the new Government took office in February 2019. There is still more to be done at PWD as we strive to improve the road network, ghuts & bridges, maintain existing building structures and design and develop new structures that are more resilient to the effects of climate change while functioning to their design capacity. Some of the efforts made, that are key and worthy to mention are:
The Government of the Virgin Islands is currently in negotiations with a local supplier to purchase an asphalt plant that is environmentally friendly, durable and long lasting that will include manufacturer’s warranties that can meet the demands of the territory and compliment the current private entity.
Road and Bridge Rehabilitation
Mr. Speaker, as we move forward with the rehabilitation of our road and bridge infrastructure the Public Works Department, through my Ministry, has engaged Engineers to begin the designing of critical infrastructure throughout the territory, just to name a few:
• Jost Van Dyke:
The Back Road rehabilitation and drainage solution;
Dog Hole Road rehabilitation;
Road Undermining on the main roads and drainage solution; and Mr. Speaker
the design of preventative measures.
Mr. Speaker, funding has been made available for JVD and works on some of these areas will begin in 2019.
• Virgin Gorda:
Nail Bay Road rehabilitation and drainage solution
Mr. Speaker, I am awaiting the cost implications on this urgent matter and I will provide an update on possible funding to engage this project.
Mr. Speaker, I have asked my team to accelerate the long outstanding completion of the Lee Road over-lay and drain covering.
Ballast Bay Road and Bridge
Mr. Speaker, the designs are completed. I am now awaiting the pricing/cost implications with the intent to tender these works in 2019.
Frenchman’s Cay Bridge
Mr. Speaker, my team has begun the preliminary works such as scheduling the Environmental Impact Study, the Geotechnical works and funding has been requested in the 2020 Budget Estimates exercise for project execution, while preparatory works have begun.
Sidewalk Restoration And Drainage Between Road Town Port To The Mcnamara Junction
Mr. Speaker, Preliminary Designs for this project are completed and I expect to have completed designs and costing within the next few weeks after which the project will be executed in 2019. Mr. Speaker, this project will represent a small portion of this Government’s Road Town Improvement plans.
Mr. Speaker, these are a few of the major infrastructural works that the Ministry of Transportation Works and Utilities are activity progressing toward mobilisation in 2019 to early 2020.
Windy Hill Road
Mr. Speaker, the Windy Hill Road is now reopened to motorist. Mr. Speaker I also acknowledge that there are more rehabilitative works to be done on that stretch of road and I will give more updates in this regard.
Fire and Rescue
Mr. Speaker, the Fire Headquarters has undergone extensive repairs to the roof, internal structures and replacement of windows and doors following the storms of 2017. For this phase of work, the handover of keys to the Chief Fire Officer will take place in the coming days.
Mr. Speaker, the next phase for the works on the Fire headquarters is to address the barracks on the 2nd floor and the bay where the appliances are housed. This external structure has been deemed unsound and reconstruction is required. This I intend to advance in the 2020 budget. Fundings will be sought to have the exterior walls painted as this was excluded in the contact.
BVI Electricity Corporation
Mr. Speaker I wish to provide a report conveying the details surrounding the cause of the total systems shutdown (Black out) which occurred on Friday June 28 2019 at 9:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker the operators observed that the control air pressure for the B-station was at a considerably low level.
As per standard practice the starting air compressor would be powered up to build the pressure to the prescribed set point.
After further investigation the operators identified a leak on unit 11’s pneumatic system due to a broken pipe.
The mechanical foreman and maintenance manager were briefed on the situation and made a way to isolate the engine.
However, by the time any preventive action could be taken, unit 11 went into its emergency shutdown protocol due to low air pressure.
After unit 11 shut down, engines #10 and #12 also shut down on low control pressure, as the air system controls all 3 units.
Unit 8 was also running at that time but the unit could not sustain the sudden loading conditions due to the loss of the units in the station B, which caused it to shut down on overloading conditions.
Unit 8 is rated at 5.5Mw (mega watts), with units 10, 11 & 12 rated at 8.5Mw each. The demand at the time of the incident was approximately 26Mw.
The broken pipe on the unit 11 was subsequently replaced with a durable alternative air hose.
Mr. Speaker with that said, the entire Transmission & Distribution network was fully restored and customers regained electricity supply at approximately 11:45a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I have requested that further examinations be carried out on the systems, and procedures to see if there is anything that can be done to prevent the reoccurrence of such service interruptions in the future. Management advised that they are currently reviewing their preventative maintenance programme.
Mr. Speaker, the strides that I have just mentioned would not be possible without the hard work of the employees in the Ministry of Transportation, Works and Utilities and our departments and agencies. I want to take this opportunity to recognize their work and to thank them for their efforts. Sometimes we get so comfortable enjoying the amenities and services that these employees provide for us that we take them for granted.
Mr. Speaker, we are working on continually improving how we perform in our roles. We are making progress and in due course, putting one foot ahead of the other, we will get even better.
Mr. Speaker, I will continue to keep this honorable house updated the best I can on the status of the work being done by the Ministry of Transportation Works and Utilities and our divisions and agencies.
I Thank You.