Beautiful Virgin Islands

Tuesday, Oct 04, 2022

No set timeline to move! Other projects must get priority over HOA

No set timeline to move! Other projects must get priority over HOA

Premier and Minister of Finance, Andrew Fahie said there is no definite timetable to move the House of Assembly (HOA) from the Save The Seed Energy Centre in Duff’s Bottom as other projects have been given priority considering the resources available.
Premier Fahie gave that indication at press conference last Friday amid criticism from political commentator Claude Skelton Cline that it is a “national disgrace” House continues to meet in the energy centre’s gymnasium nearly five years after Hurricane Irma damaged its original location in Road Town.

But in responding to questions from the media, Fahie said the limited resources in the middle of a pandemic means the government must prioritise some projects over others.

He said the HOA is important, but several projects had to be fast-tracked as it directly impacted the people of the territory.

The Premier said these projects include the Elmore Stoutt High School (ESHS) Redevelopment, which is being done so senior students and teachers can be moved from the school’s mouldy campus in Pasea.

“If we did the House of Assembly first and leave the children second, then you rightfully would come and ask, ‘what about those children up there in those mould-infested buildings. Is there no future for them in there? When are you going to address that?’” the Finance Minister said.

He added that the government also has the Jost Van Dyke School project to complete. Fahie said the school was destroyed by hurricanes Irma and Maria. And despite being promised a new school long before the two hurricanes, the project has not been delivered.

The Finance Minister noted the East End-Long Look Sewage Project also takes precedence.

“It doesn’t make and project less important than the other but, at the same time, you don’t have the money to do them all at once. Yes, we are going to look at getting the HOA project completed but at the same time there are certain things we have to do first to secure our young people in a better environment, stop our people at East End/Long Look from walking in what we call ‘number one and two’ whether solid or liquid,” Fahie said

“We also have Carrot Bay where the sea defence since Irma and Maria has eaten away at the shoreline and we are getting that fixed and have it looked like a more modernised coastline. The Frenchman’s Cay Bridge. You’ve also heard about the new West End Ferry Terminal. There is a lot of infrastructures that we must get done to protect people’s lives and to help us to boost our economy further than tourism products,” the Premier added.

He mentioned it was difficult to invest all the money in non-revenue generating activities or in areas that would not have much impact as needed to secure the safety of the people. The HOA, Fahie said, has its importance but members and the general public would understand that the government must complete the other projects first.

“I could not sleep in my bed knowing I put an HOA project ahead of bringing over 1,200 students back to the ESHS. Yet we are in the HOA in a brand-new environment sitting down speaking and doing the people’s work when most of the people in the country are suffering. That would not be good leadership. Yes, it has its place but everything takes time,” Fahie said.
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