Statement

Ministry of Transportation Works and Utilities
Release Date:
Friday, 13 August 2021 - 12:34pm

STATEMENT BY MINISTER FOR TRANSPORTATION, WORK AND UTILITIES HONOURABLE KYE M. RYMER

AT THE ELEVENTH SITTING OF THE THIRD SESSION

OF THE FOURTH HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY OF THE VIRGIN ISLANDS

Thursday, 12th August, 2021

RALPH T. O’NEAL ADMINISTRATION COMPLEX

Mister Speaker, I stand to update the progress of works for the Ralph T. O’Neal Administration Complex on behalf of the Honourable Minister for Transportation, Works and Utilities, Honourable Kye Rymer. 

In a previous update, the Minister indicated that his ministry developed a comprehensive four-pronged approach to the renovation of the Administration Complex as follows:

  1. Demolition and removal of existing building components
  2. Ensuring the Complex is watertight and resilient against high winds and undertake repairs to the building cladding
  3. Design and installation of new mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and ICT systems
  4. Interior outfitting and configuration

Minister Speaker, I am pleased to note that things are progressing well with the first two areas while the other two remain pending. 

Cabinet very recently approved the procurement policy for fractioned demolition works via petty contracts and work orders to the remaining offices in the East and West Wings of the Administration Complex. 

Last year, some demolition works were undertaken to the West Wing, but since there were departments present within the Ralph T. O’Neal Administration Complex at the time, the full demolition works were not completed. 

With all the Government agencies vacating the Administration Complex, we are now ready to complete the demolition works of the remaining office spaces. 

Mister Speaker, if I may speak on the fractioned demolition works briefly to be undertaken via petty contracts and work orders. 

The Administration Complex is comprised of 19 offices, ten conference rooms, six bathrooms, corridors, and lobby areas. In many instances, these offices and supporting rooms are segmented and are on different floors and wings of the Administration Complex.   

The demolition works will see the complete and full removal of floor tiles, sheetrock walls, ceilings, air conditioning ducts, and any other remaining items and furnishings. Based on these factors, it was held best to use the petty contract and work order system to serve as an economic stimulant due to the challenges imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic.  

The demolition is necessary to ensure that all mold-ridden items remaining at the Ralph T. O’Neal Administration Complex are removed and allows for a clean slate for the new works to be constructed. 

Mister Speaker, the demolition works mentioned does not include demolition works to the basement at this time. The basement houses the archived files and documents of the various ministries and departments. 

Honourable Members of this House would recall that the basement of the Administration Complex was flooded in 2017, and a majority of the files have been water-soaked and impacted by mold. 

We have to continue to pause any works in addressing the basement as a result of the ongoing Commission of Inquiry. We have been advised that these files should be secured in place until the Commission of Inquiry has concluded. 

Once the Commission of Inquiry has concluded its six-month extension, the Ministry of Transportation, Works, and Utilities will engage a professional company in mold remediation and cleaning via a tender process to salvage the files and dispose of mold-ridden building elements.

Mister Speaker, I will now speak on the second component of the four-pronged approach, which involves sealing the building envelope against water infiltration and making the building more resilient. 

At present, DesignBVI Limited, the company responsible for removing the existing damaged glass windows and doors and installing new impact-resistant glass windows and doors, has continued to make steady progress. The majority of the preparatory works necessary for installing the aluminum frames and impact glass have been completed. These preparatory works include removing the existing damaged frames and glasses. They also include constructing concrete krebs, and other masonry works to ensure added resiliency and increased prevention against water infiltration.

Mister Speaker, by the end of this month, the first shipment of aluminum frames will be on the island. This will be followed by the shipment of the impact glass readying for the installation works of the new aluminum frames and impact glasses.

The Ministry of Transportation, Works and Utilities via the Ministry of Finance has issued a tender for the restoration of the basement parking doors on the East Wing; the construction of a driveway and other components to access the basement parking on the West Wing; and drainage enhancements to various areas on the compound of the Administration Complex.

The works for which this tender is issued is to ensure the drainage system around the Administration Complex is enhanced to make the compound more resilient against flooding. Mister Speaker, the tender will also realize a new basement parking on the West Wing. 

In the design and construction of the Administration Complex, there was provision made for basement parking on the West Wing, but the driveway access was never established. This tender will establish the basement parking along with replacing damaged doors at the basement level.

Within a few weeks, a tender document for constructing a new elevator housing on the West Wing will be made available.  

The tender document for the refinishing, repair, and recladding of the Ralph T. O’Neal Administration Complex exterior finishes is with the Ministry of Finance and will be advertised, shortly.  

Upon installing the impact glass, the new elevator on the West Wing, and the refinishing to the exterior building, will see a remarkable transformation to the damaged, plywood cladded structure that is currently used.  

I want to assure this Honourable House and the public that the renovation of the Ralph T. O’Neal Administration Complex is of utmost importance to the Government of the Virgin Islands. 

As part of the renovation works, efforts are also being made to improve upon the vulnerabilities of the Administration Complex while providing additional enhancements. Some of the additional enhancements include constructing a new elevator on the West Wing to ensure the Ralph T. O’Neal Administration Complex is fully compliant and accessible to the disabled and the elderly. Mister Speaker, other enhancements include upgrading the atriums and breezeway spaces to provide additional services to serve the public better. 

The completion of the renovation and enhancement works will ensure that the Ralph T. O’Neal Administration Complex is a building that can serve and meet the needs of the Government and the public in the 21st century.

Mister Speaker, I want to thank you for the opportunity to speak on the progress of the Ralph T. O’Neal Administration Complex renovation project.