354 James Walter Francis Drive
RJT Edifice Building, 5th Floor
Road Town, TORTOLA VG1110
Tel: 284 468 2730
Fax: 284 468 2750
STATEMENT BY MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS AND WORKS
HONOURABLE KYE M. RYMER AT THE FIFTH SITTING OF THE FIRST SESSION OF THE FIFTH HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY OF THE VIRGIN ISLANDS ON ASPHALT PAVING OF PRIMARY ROADS
Tuesday 31st October 2023
Madam Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to provide an update on the Territory’s Road Infrastructure.
As you know, the road infrastructure throughout the Territory is not ideal. There is substantial deterioration of not only the top layer, which is the asphalt layer, but also the base and subbase layers that have been compromised in many areas.
Madam Speaker, we have a significant issue with drainage throughout the road network. Most of the roads were not built with any drainage consideration, which has led to their undermining and deterioration. For those roads that have drainage, they are undersized and do not meet the requirements. Water pools in the streets for lengthy periods after heavy rains due to sloping and drainage inadequacies. As a result, the roads are continually being degraded and deteriorated.
Unfortunately, we cannot divorce the road infrastructure from other parts of the public infrastructure. Digging up roads to fix leaking or damaged water lines has contributed to their destruction and disrupted the normal flow of traffic.
The Public Works Department conducts asphalt patching, but that is not a long-term fix. What we need is a well-engineered road network with adequate drainage.
Nevertheless, I am thankful to the Minister for Finance for his support. He understands the issues and has made the commitment to secure loan funding to allow the Ministry of Communications and Works to comprehensively address the Territory’s road network.
Madam Speaker, in the interim, we have started, in several areas, to upgrade the primary road network. The recently completed stretch of road in Fish Bay is a prime example. Ballast Bay, Great Mountain, Sabbath Hill, Hope Hill, and Little Dix Hill have also seen works inclusive of retaining walls, slipper and kerb walls and overlaying to provide a finished product that sets the standard for the quality of roads needed in the Virgin Islands.
In addition, Madam Speaker, we recently signed a contract for the reconstruction of Three Thousand Eight Hundred (3,800) linear feet of road from Paraquita Bay to Hodge’s Creek, which includes slipper drains, culverts and box drains along with a new subbase and base layer. We are working along with BVIEC for the laying of conduits for main transmission lines for resiliency within the electrical distribution system. These works represent Phase 1 of the remedial works to be performed in this area. We anticipate that Phase 2 work, which will commence from Hodge’s Creek to Fat Hog’s Bay, will be put out to tender by December of this year.
Madam Speaker, we were always resolved to do comprehensive road reconstruction works following the completion of the sewerage projects in specific areas. We will shortly be concluding sewerage works in the Fat Hog’s Bay and Long Swamp area, thereafter, road reconstruction will follow.
We will issue a tender in November for sewerage works for the installation of gravity and force main lines and, installation of manholes and pump stations along the Parham Town to Long Swamp route. A comprehensive road reconstruction of that area follows.
The road strategy and programmes must include the incorporation of water and sewerage programmes and all other utilities to ensure a coordinated effort, minimal impact on road users and the longevity of the roads that are expensive to construct and maintain.
Madam Speaker, the Ministry, and the Public Works Department are changing the way in which we construct and repair roads. Simply throwing asphalt in a hole is not acceptable and neither is the construction of roadways without addressing the subbase and base layers.
I am pleased that we have issued the tender notice for Asphalt Paving and Road Markings throughout the Territory to address over thirty-eight miles of primary roads. As a reference, from the roundabout in Road Town to the roundabout at Port Purcell is approximately one mile, which gives an idea of the magnitude of the works that we are endeavouring to do.
This tender involves a comprehensive reconstruction of the roads and as part of this tender, the contractor will be required to assess the roads to determine the extent of repair works required. We anticipate that most of the primary roadways may require some measure of reconstruction and rehabilitation and provision has been made in this tender.
Madam Speaker, there may be other instances where only milling of the existing asphalt layer is required prior to overlaying with asphalt and such instances are also included in this tender.
We understand the importance of drainage in the development and longevity of any road network; therefore, we have included over nineteen miles of curb walls and over nineteen miles of slipper drains to accompany the road reconstruction works. These works should be integral to any road design and they are included in ours. As you know, the longer water stays on the roads, the quicker they deteriorate.
Madam Speaker, any well put together tender accounts for contingencies and so has ours, particularly for road construction and asphalt paving works in the hillsides. If short retaining walls are needed to shore up the roadway, the contingencies cover those. It goes without saying that careful attention will be paid to the road base to determine the levels of intervention required per our current modus operandi.
We expect the contractor to be competent to undertake all the required work including evaluating all aggregates, batching and testing the asphalt in accordance with the acceptable design mix and placement of the asphalt.
In terms of road markings, we know the importance to motorists especially when driving at night. Road studs popularly known as cat eyes will compliment these markings. All thirty-eight miles of road will be addressed in this fashion so we expect and anticipate that when these works are completed, BVI roads will match the quality and expectations for any roadway, anywhere in the world.
Madam Speaker, the thirty-eight miles of primary roads to which this tender will be addressing are as follows:
In Virgin Gorda, seven miles of road from the roundabout at the junction of Lee Road to the Top of Baths and from the Ferry dock to North Sound. In Jost Van Dyke, 3 miles of road from Rudy’s along the back road towards the Church of God of Prophecy.
On Tortola, twenty-eight miles of road commencing from the West End Ferry Terminal to MacNamara, from Fish Bay to the Beef Island Bridge and then onwards to Trellis Bay. We would also be addressing roads from Cappoons Bay to Sage Mountain junction and from Sage Mountain junction to the top of Joe’s Hill. Also, scheduled to be remedied are the roadways in Cane Garden Bay from the bridge in the vicinity of De Wedding to the Brewers Bay road junction and from Rudy’s bar leading through Meyers over the entire Ridge Road to the East End Police Station junction.
Madam Speaker, from the areas described, you will recognize that we have covered most of the primary roads throughout the Territory. Certainly, you would have recognised that no mention was made of Anegada, but I assure you that no one has been left out. The plan for Anegada is to pave those roads with concrete only so there was no need to include Anegada in the asphalt paving tender works.
But make no mistakes, Madam Speaker, although the focus of this tender is for primary roads, we have not forgotten the secondary and tertiary roads throughout the districts. On September 18th, our asphalt plant was commissioned and on September 28th, my Ministry staff reached out to all the District Representatives for them to help to prioritise the areas that require asphalt patching and/or overlaying. The Ministry is currently in the process of preparing tenders for each district to undertake a comprehensive patching programme which would utilise private contractors. Although I am surprised that only three (3) District Representatives have responded to our requests thus far, I know the other members will eventually get involved.
Additionally, we have issued a bulletin for owners of three (3) yard to ten (10) yard trucks to assist with the asphalt application throughout the territory. To date, we have received twenty-four (24) applicants for this initiative. This work will help to keep the economy stimulated. In the meanwhile, the Public Works Department will continue to perform asphalt patching to primary and secondary roads throughout the Territory, weather permitting.
Madam Speaker, it is critical that we get the reconstruction and asphalt paving of roads correct and, on my watch, we will. You would be pleased to know, Madam Speaker, that the tender includes training of Public Works Department personnel in developing roads, utilising the equipment and maintenance. Not only are we building roads to ensure their longevity, but we are also investing in our highly valued human capital.
I thank you Madam Speaker.