STATEMENT BY PREMIER AND MINISTER OF FINANCE HONOURABLE ANDREW A. FAHIE
DURING THE ELEVENTH SITTING OF THE THIRD SESSION
OF THE FOURTH HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY OF THE VIRGIN ISLANDS
Thursday 12th August 2021
West End Ferry Terminal Project
Minister Speaker, I will now speak on the West End Ferry Terminal project.
One of our fungi music legends, Lashing Dog had a song called “At Last,” ...and the legendary Etta James said it as well.
The Virgin Islands is finally moving forward to commence actions on the new West End Ferry Terminal. And I repeat, the Virgin Islands is finally moving forward to commence actions on the new West End Ferry Terminal. To God be all the Glory.
I know that the people of the Virgin Islands have been waiting for it, more specifically the people in the First District, and if I can speak for him, I know the First District Representative is excited for this moment.
The Virgin Islands and the people of the Virgin Islands continue our recovery from the devastation caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria four years ago – just shy by one month. But to all of us, it seems just like yesterday.
Our Virgin Islands people continue to prove our resilience and our resolute spirit, and with our GOD on our side, nothing is too great for us to do.
Nothing is impossible.
The operation of the human mind is such that often we become so focused on the now and what is in front of us that we forget - or we take for granted - how much things have changed and how much has been done in the past.
Those of you who were present in the Virgin Islands in September 2017 and shortly after that would recall the state that these islands were in after being hit by two back-to-back Category 5 hurricanes in just the space of a couple of days.
You would recall the state of the infrastructure – the homes, the commercial buildings, the public buildings, and so forth.
And you would recall that some persons thought that we would not recover soon when they looked at the damage in front of them.
And when we look about today, indeed, everything has not been restored fully. But how much have we risen from the rubble!
And the progress that has taken place is due to the fortitude of our Virgin Islands people.
Indeed, we did have some help in the initial stages to restore some services and to clear some of our roads, for example.
And our friends and neighbours reached out with some emergency assistance. But, in terms of the real rebuilding and recovery, it has been mostly us mobilising what we have, reaching as far as we can, and regrouping and coming again.
And so, today, as we take another significant step forward in our recovery from Irma and Maria.
I want every Virgin Islander to recognise that this is our accomplishment.
And, when this new West End Ferry Terminal is completed in the next 36 months, it will be our achievement, paid by us, the people of the Virgin Islands – not by anyone else.
When the time comes, we must remember to look at the finished facility and say with pride – the people of the Virgin Islands did that.
And we did that not only while going through recovery from a catastrophic climate disaster but also while battling with the worst pandemic to strike the world in over 100 years.
Despite all the challenges, the BVI keeps moving forward. So we say to GOD be all the glory.
Mister Speaker, there are so many recovery and rebuilding projects that have been undertaken on the pure strength of the Virgin Islands people.
Some have been done directly out of the Territory’s pockets. We have had some assistance from the United Kingdom Government in their areas of interest. We have taken loans from the Caribbean Development Bank and other lenders, to whom we are grateful. And, I must say to whom we the people have to repay those loans.
But even for those loans, they are being repaid by the strength of us, the Virgin Islands people, and we must remember that.
We must never underestimate ourselves, and we must not undervalue ourselves.
Our seaports are an integral part of our way of life in the Virgin Islands. It is part of our culture. It is what helps to build us as a people of the Virgin Islands.
We depend on good, functional port infrastructure to commute between our islands for leisure and to do business.
We depend on our port to travel to and from the neighbouring US Virgin Islands and receive visitors for our tourism industries.
Before the hurricanes, the West End Ferry Terminal, sometimes called Sopher’s Hole Jetty, cleared 40 percent of all arrivals into the Virgin Islands. Mister Speaker, it’s very important that I repeat this statistic. Before the hurricanes, the West End Ferry Terminal, sometimes called Sopher’s Hole Jetty, cleared 40 percent of all arrivals into the Virgin Islands.
A functioning Ferry Terminal in the West End of Tortola is important and convenient for our residents from that side of the island, who otherwise would have to travel to Road Town to catch the ferries.
And, this is not just for the residents of the First District, but also residents of Jost Van Dyke and several other communities in the Second District.
We know all too well that there are persons who prefer to leave from the East End/ Long Look community to commute to West End to catch the ferries to St John or to St Thomas.
Mister Speaker, your Government has been very much aware of how much it means to people to have the ferry terminal restored at West End. And, that is why we made it one of our priorities.
But I even need to go further back than the hurricanes of 2017; the rebuilding of the West End Ferry Terminal has been discussed for many, many, many years. I can even remember this from as far back as even from my primary school years, and even now, when we stated that it would be a priority, and it is a priority of this Government, through the RDA, persons were still doubting. Well, as of August 10, 2021, we are putting all doubts to rest.
Mister Speaker, you may recall that there were promises that the services in West End would be restored by September 2018, but this never materialised.
Your present Government put it in our manifesto that we would treat this with the urgency it deserves.
And, in August 2019, just six months in office, we opened a temporary facility at West End so that maritime services could resume while we worked on getting a permanent facility in place.
And, I must state with the West End Terminal, doing at least 40 percent of all arrivals, one would understand the economic significance of having the West End Ferry Terminal up and dully functional into a modern jetty.
It will help our economy by leaps and bounds.
Mister Speaker, through the Recovery and Development Agency (RDA), which is an agency under the Premier’s Office, an invitation for consultancy services for the design and construction management of the project was issued last year-- 2020.
We had hoped to be further along by now, but as we all know, there were setbacks due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
But everything is in place to move forward.
The team at the RDA will speak more about the details of the project, during the course of the next few weeks along with the myself and even with some other t public meetings that we will be having and what we are to expecting over the course of the next 36 months.
They would also explain more about the 12-month defects liability period as a guarantee behind the quality of work that is to be delivered in this $1,048,909 project which includes project design and project management. This does not include the construction cost. The RDA will tender that, and a successful contractor will move toward building the facility and that amount will be made known when the time comes.
However, Mister Speaker, I must say for the construction cost it is important to inform this Honourable House that there is a revenue figure is already put aside in terms of the loan figure from CDB. So the project Mister Speaker, is moving forward and will continue to forward for the next 36 months.
I want to congratulate the successful contractor, INROS Lackner S.E (Germany), for winning this award. We look forward to a smooth execution with delivery on time, on budget and according to scope.
I must also highly commend the RDA team. Since May 2021, the RDA, under acting Chief Executive Officer Mr. Anthony McMaster, has sprinted over every hurdle, and has broken many records by bringing forward quite a number of projects. One would say that he exceed his personal best.
These projects, which your Government prioritised, have multiple benefits for the Virgin Islands people and our economy. They strengthen our infrastructure; improve our resilience, economic capacity, and competitiveness; and they contribute to job creation and stimulate activity in our economy for the benefit of the wider community.
Mister Speaker, we have confidence in our people.
There are some persons who say they cannot see anything happening; they cannot see any work being done by your Government.
Well, the facts speak for themselves. A lot has been happening, and we have work being completed in spite of all the challenges being experiences during the ongoing COVID-19 worldwide pandemic, which is the worst pandemic in the last 100 years.
Our gratitude also goes out to all public officers across the various departments in the Public Service who have kept the wheels of Government turning throughout the pandemic.
Special thanks must also go to the Permanent Secretaries who continue to work with Mr. McMaster to push the projects forward - ensuring that the perfect does not become the enemy of the greater good.
I must also thank the Ministry of Finance; we thank the Acting Financial Secretary, Mr. Jeremiah Frett, and Dr. Drexel Glasgow for their continued commitment to the RDA.
I also want to thank the Attorney General Office under the leadership of Attorney Dawn Smith and her tea, at the Attorney General Chambers.
I want to thank my Government members for their ongoing and unwavering commitment.
I must also say that the RDA’s work is on the move. We have works starting shortly on the Elmore Stoutt High School to get that completed by the end of April 2022, which will house the senior school that is up by CTL, and you will continue to hear about more projects, Mister Speaker especially from the Minister of Education as early as today.
Together with our people, we will continue to transform the Virgin Islands into a leading regional economy through entrepreneurship, innovation, and local and foreign investment.
Together, we will continue to have all confidence in our Virgin Islands people, especially as we mature in our journey towards self-determination.
We are all in this together, and we are indeed moving forward in BVILOVE.
This is about supporting a Virgin Islands that we all love and all call home.
So let us continue to work together to keep our Virgin Islands on a path of growth and development.
May God continue to bless these Virgin Islands and her people.
Mister Speaker, I thank you.