Statement by Honourable Kye Rymer
Minister for Transportation, Works and Utilities
At the Eleventh Sitting of the Second Session of the Fourth
House of Assembly of the Virgin Islands
June 26th, 2020
On Ministry Update
Mister Speaker, when I last updated this honorable house, I mentioned that the first shipment of the new Ultrasonic meters for distribution to customers had arrived and was in the possession of the Water and Sewerage Department. The Department is now in the final stage of preparations to commence installation within the coming week. The Department currently has a waiting list of customers who have paid all fees and is awaiting connection; these customers will be given priority. I take this opportunity to thank them for their patience and to apologize for the inconvenience that was caused by this delay.
Mister Speaker, the residents of Horse Path will be pleased to know that the Department is currently working on the sewerage system, which is long overdue. This project is a continuation of the Road Town Sewerage Improvement Project. There are quite a number of customers in this area that have been waiting for a connection to this system; again, we say thank you for your patience as we exert every effort to get these connections done.
Mister Speaker, I take this opportunity at this moment to also inform in addition to the minister regarding the Paraquita Bay Farm Lands. Mister Speaker I wish to commend the Minister for Agriculture Dr. the Honourable Natalio Wheatley who is responsible for the subject, for his persistence in ensuring that this issue has been rectified. The team at Water and Sewerage has identified several open ended lines on the lands of the farms with water hardly going to the grounds.
On Wednesday, 24th June, 2020 a team, led by the Director visited the farmers to get a better understanding and suggestions as to how we can better the water infrastructure. The main concerns pointed out by the farmers are:
1. There are feeder lines connected to the main line that are not receiving water. The farmers advised that these lines should be removed from farms that are not functional which would allow more water to flow in the functional areas.
2. Haven’t located the feeder lines with the most pressure, the farmers provided advice as to how the water pressure can be maintained.
3. The farmers advised that proper sprinkler systems should be installed.
Minister Speaker, the team was able to trace back to the valves on the lands, and has identified that in order for service to be effective in some areas, valves would have to be closed or turned down. Mister Speaker, as we continue to work the current system a timed system has been implemented from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. dependent on the water production. Mister Speaker, in order to provide the adequate supply of water to these farmers consistently the entire system must be redone, however the Water and Sewerage Department through the Ministry is committed toward providing guidance and solution in resolving these issues.
Department of Motor Vehicles
Mister Speaker, I am pleased to announce that on July 13th, 2020 the Department of Motor Vehicles will resume its full complement of services; these services include cone tests, road tests, overseas drivers’ licenses, license upgrades, written test, and new drivers’ license. Mister Speaker, motorists are reminded to use the appointment system when requesting services from the department; as they continue to adhere to the social distancing guidelines.
Mister Speaker, on June 4th, Cabinet approved the Road Traffic (Restriction of use of Motor Cycle) Regulations, 2020, restricting the use of motorcycles, scooters and three-wheeled similar vehicles from 5pm to 5am.
Persons exempted were identified as employed in the essential services; security guards employed by a private security service provider; a customs officer; an immigration officer and persons traversing through and from work.
The regulations were for three weeks in the first instance, ending on June 25; Cooperation from the public, in displaying a level of understanding of the regulation, by using the apparatuses of safety, such as the wearing of helmets, and protective gear; as well as adhering to the current restriction, would be the springboard, in reconsideration, to reducing or lifting the restrictions.
Virgin Islanders there is a heighten concern emanating from the public, with respect to the use of motorcycles in the Territory.
The extensive disregard for safety was observed of riders not wearing helmets, riders operating this privileged mode of transportation recklessly, putting their lives, and the lives of other road users in danger.
The Ministry of Transportation and the Department of Motor Vehicles, prior to these restrictions tried meeting the biking community “half way" so to speak.
Even after, we held meetings with bikers and other stakeholders. Conducted safety awareness exercises; instituted a programme to get motorcycle operators to become registered and to have their vehicles licensed and registered.
The absence of an attitude highlighting the mantra of Get Right, Get Legal, and Ride safe, even in the soft curfew provided to show this, unfortunately, has mirrored the lack of reciprocity by the motoring community.
Yes, a few persons have seized the opportunity to get right, get legal and presented themselves at the DMV to be registered.
Sadly we continue to witness, an increase in road accidents involving motorcycles.
In some instances, recklessness is a factor and in some instances it is not the fault of the rider.
This situation cannot continue and it will not be tolerated.
Your Government and its agencies have a responsibility to the Territory of these Beautiful Virgin Islands and the communities that make up this territory.
Your Government wants to facilitate those persons who find enjoyment in riding.
However we will not allow person’s lives, safety and property – especially innocent persons - to be put at risk, by ignoring the selfishness and misconduct of those who insist on operating outside the law, without any care for the consequences to themselves or others.
In the first instance, I would like the members of the public to know that I have spoken with the Commissioner of Police with respect to the enforcement of all the road traffic laws, applicable to the safe use of motorcycles and similar vehicles.
Persons unwilling to adhere to the law that grants them the privilege of riding freely will not be given any quarter or leniency in the parts of the law that speak to the offenses of the law.
Your Government is not above the law and as such although there are privileges granted, there are consequences.
Additionally, in light of a review of the last three weeks of restrictions and the response to the call for motorcyclists to register with the DMV, the decision has been made to extend the 5pm to 5am motorcycle restrictions by a another three weeks, pending another review at the end of that period.
I am hopeful that the response will be more positive when that review is done. I am hopeful that when we revisit this issue in three weeks, we would have more motorcyclist registering at the DMV, more persons would be wearing helmets, and we would be seeing safer operation of motorcycles on our roads.
Mister Speaker, the DMV continues to welcome our bikers to get right, get legal and encourage them to ride safe. A dedicated line remains in effect to ensure fast service, and no appointment is necessary. Just bring your motorcycle and come down to the DMV offices on Tortola and Virgin Gorda.
Mister Speaker, these measures are necessary because we care about the safety of our people. We do not want to see persons getting injured, or worse losing their lives.
Your Government will continue to find ways to ensure that this mode of transportation remain an option. But you have to help us to help you to help us. Safety is paramount and Your Government is not afraid to make the hard decisions to keep us alive as a people, and keep us healthy.
We believe that with common understanding and mutual respect, we will arrive at solutions that complement the evolution of us as Virgin Islanders.
To our motorcycle enthusiast, and riders, riding your motorcycle must bring you happiness, not pain.
Your enjoyment must not be to the endangering of others. You can enjoy riding in a safe, respectful and law-abiding way, and this is what together we will achieve.
I hope you will see it fit to work with us, as we are trying to work with you.
Again I say, get right, get legal and ride safe.
Remember: SAFE DRIVING SAVES LIVES
I thank you