People of the Virgin Islands, I come to you today as part of my weekly schedule of updates.
Today I travel to London for one week where I will be discussing plans for our short and longer-term recovery with the UK Government and partners. The Premier is also set to travel to London in the coming days. We will be meeting with our UK colleagues and working very hard to present the priorities and the next steps that need to be undertaken to progress our recovery plan as we work to build back stronger. I am grateful to Deputy Governor Madame Rosalie Adams who, from today, is Acting Governor in my absence.
I know that many individuals within our communities continue to face challenging times. I also know that many people are working very hard, coming together as a community, cleaning up schools and their local areas. I especially want to thank all the volunteers who joined my team last Friday in the clean-up campaign at the Ebenezer Thomas Primary School in Sea Cow’s Bay. It was incredible to see what a difference a few hours of hard work made to the classrooms and grounds. Many hands made light work and best of all, the school is now a step closer to welcoming the children back. It is a reminder of the great progress that can be achieved when we work together as a team.
Repairing critical infrastructure remains the number one priority for both Cabinet and myself; getting the power back on; working through the night to carry out much needed road repairs; getting the sewerage and water systems repaired. Progress continues and this week, the Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport on Beef Island was supplied with electricity. Approximately 45% of transmission lines have been reinstalled on Tortola with 20% of households on that island now being supplied with power. On Virgin Gorda currently about 50% of households have electricity and about 80% in Anegada and we hope to connect the rest soon.
The temporary resurfacing of roads continues. Since my last update, teams from the Public Works Department have done resurfacing from Road Town going west to Duffs Bottom, Sea Cow’s Bay and Towers, and in the east, from Paraquita Bay to the Airport. General road clearing has been completed on major roads such as Windy Hill, Great Mountain, Bellevue, Fort Hill and Joe’s Hill. These efforts should help make for an improved experience while traversing the roads but motorists should still take care especially on the hillsides.
East End and Road Town now have mains running water. Anegada’s water network has been restored and the reservoirs are filled nightly, while on Virgin Gorda, there is water distribution throughout the Valley. Provision of a water tank and cistern have made it possible for water distribution to higher and lower areas of Jost Van Dyke. Improving utilities on Jost Van Dyke remains a priority.
I also want to remind people that registration for the Government of the Virgin Islands’ Household Assistance Programme, in partnership with United Kingdom Aid and the British Red Cross, closes this Saturday 28 October. This programme identifies those most in need so we can provide assistance with money and shelter. Thus far, 1064 persons have registered and I urge everyone in need to please register by visiting the BVI Red Cross Building. Please see the Government of the Virgin Islands’ Facebook page and the BVI Red Cross’ Facebook page for more information on registration.
I want to again acknowledge the support from the Bermuda, Cayman Islands and UK police officers who have been working alongside our Royal Virgin Islands Police Force since Hurricane Irma. Yesterday we said farewell to officers from the Royal Cayman Islands Police Force, and welcomed the new rotation of officers who arrived on the same day. We continue to be hugely grateful for their support to our local force as we continue to rebuild and recover.
Finally, just to remind everyone that the curfew remains in place from 11:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.
Let us continue to work together and stay strong.
May God bless us and best wishes for a good weekend and week ahead.
Listen to the audio version of the statement below: