Local construction company Tarris Hill Construction Ltd. was awarded the contract for repairs to the Valarie O. Thomas Community Centre, which also serves as an emergency shelter.
Construction bids were received from three contractors in the BVI in December 2020 to undertake extensive repairs to the centre which serves the Sea Cow’s Bay and surrounding communities. A portion of the centre is also currently being used as a clinic by the BVI Health Services Authority.
Tarris Hill Construction Ltd. was able to demonstrate that they have the necessary skills and expertise to carry out the works that will be needed to meet the regional Smart standards inclusive of Basic Infection Control, and Hygiene and Space Management requirements as established by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).
The Valarie O. Thomas Community Centre in Sea Cow’s Bay will be the second showcase facility as part of a resilience project funded by the European Union and implemented by PAHO on behalf of the Government of the Virgin Islands.
Dr. Yitades Gebre, PAHO/WHO Representative for Barbados and Eastern Caribbean Countries said works include strengthening of the roofs, upgrade of windows and doors; flooding, energy efficient light and water fixtures; and improvements in functionality and ensuring that they are in full compliance with international shelter standards and the Smart standards promoted by PAHO.
Dr. Gebre added, “This Emergency Shelter will also be outfitted with new appliances and VHF radio communications which are essential items for the operations of these facilities during crisis or emergencies. We have been impressed with the interest shown by the local contractors and the quality of the bids received and we expect to see the completion of the works by June 2021.”
Premier and Minister of Finance, and National Authorising Officer, Honourable Andrew A. Fahie said that he was pleased to see the works commence on the second showcase facility and being implemented by another local contractor as in the case of the West End Community Centre which is also being completed by another local contractor.
The Premier also thanked PAHO and the EU for continuing the works at a steady pace even as the world continues to respond to the effects of COVID-19.
The Premier said, “I am pleased to see that our very own local contractors are given the opportunity to compete for the works associated with this very important project. As we continue these works I encourage local contractors and building professional to pay close attention to this project so that they can benefit from the capacity building opportunities that are being made available to learn more about resilient structures.”
He added, “My Government will continue to collaborate with regional and international partners to offer opportunities to our local building professionals to enhance their skills and the competencies.”
Premier Fahie, who is also representative for the First District where the West End Community Centre is located, stated that he has been closely following the work at the West End Community Centre, which is the other showcase facility and he is very pleased with the progress being made.
“I look forward to seeing the award of contracts and commencement of works on the remaining three selected shelters that will benefit from this project,” Premier Fahie said.
He added, “We expect that we will have two model emergency shelters shortly that will provide a blue print for the retrofitting works that will be done on other emergency shelters throughout the Territory and that can also be a model for the region. We are committed to the advancement of the Territorial Disaster Management Programme and in providing safe accommodations for our residents in the event of emergencies or disasters.”
The designs for the facilities were done by PAHO’s technical experts who partnered with local firms and individuals to ensure that the plans were in keeping with regulatory requirements and guidelines used by the local Planning Authority and in line with the current local construction rates.
The resilience project was launched in April of 2019 and is valued at 2 million Euros. It will include the rehabilitation of selected emergency shelters, the provision of emergency relief supplies for these facilities, training for the public and private sector in resilient, safe and green (Smart) building strategies and standards, and training in shelter management inclusive of psychosocial care.
Other emergency shelters will undergo repairs and upgrades this year including the Long Trench Community Centre, the Emile E. Dunlop Community Centre on Anegada and the Christiana and Gertrude Warner Community Centre in Purcell Estate. Five other Emergency Shelters on Virgin Gorda and Tortola will be outfitted with appliances and communications devices.
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