STATEMENT BY DEPUTY PREMIERAND MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS AND WORKS
HONOURABLE KYE M. RYMER
AT THE THIRD SITTING OF THE FIFTH SESSION
OF THE FOURTH HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY OF THE VIRGIN ISLANDS
ON THE COMMISSIONING OF THE ASPHALT PLANT
Friday 10th February 2023
Madam Speaker, I wish to provide an update on the Government-owned asphalt plant.
Madam Speaker, maintaining our roads requires us to have a supply of materials whenever repairs become necessary or when upgrades are scheduled. Access to materials have been an ongoing challenge over the years and contributes to why repairs are delayed from time to time. My Ministry remains active in researching ways in which the Territory can benefit from reduced costs when carrying out infrastructure works, however, the global prices of bitumen and asphalt affect these prices and supply, especially when crude oil prices rise. These are things that we have limited to no control over.
To mitigate against these challenges, the Ministry of Communications and Works and the Public Works Department undertook to replace and commission a Government-owned asphalt plant. We envisaged to have this plant operational in 2022 but some of the long lead items were delayed due to global disruptions in the supply chain caused by the war in Ukraine caused some of the components for the plant to be delayed – such as the electrical panel for connecting the plant to the national grid. The bitumen oil, which is another long lead item, was extremely delayed and was only received in December, 2022. The Covid-19 Pandemic, may I add, was also a huge contributor to the delays and shortage in supplies.
The commissioning body, AMMANN, made a recent visit to the Territory to inspect the plant for commissioning. The representative found that further configurations have to be implemented prior to the commissioning of the plant to ensure that it functions effectively. These adjustments are currently being carried out by the Public Works Department under the supervision of the AMMANN representative. In addition to the asphalt plant, the Ministry also procured and has available a new asphalt paver, a milling machine, and a new roller.
Madam Speaker, upon the commissioning of the plant, the AMMANN representative will conduct training opportunities for our Public Work Department employees in accordance with their contractual obligations.
Madam Speaker, my Government and I are aware of the current state of the road infrastructure. We agree with the people that our commuters and visitors deserve better roads to traverse. The replacing and commissioning of our plant, along with the auxiliary equipment, will allow for the major undertaking of road rehabilitation works throughout the Territory. Once the plant is commissioned, we will be carrying out a phased road programme to address areas in need of repair and resurfacing.
I would like to take this time to thank the motoring public for their patience and understanding as we work to improve the conditions of the Territory’s road infrastructure network.
Madam Speaker, I thank you.