Photo Credit: BVI Platinum News
The Virgin Islands Party (VIP) has come under heavy criticism by Chairman of the National Democratic Party (NDP) and Minister of Education, Hon. Myron Walwyn, over their use of a billboard depicting the state of the hurricane-ravaged Elmore Stoutt High School—an action which Hon. Walwyn has described as “low.”
The billboard in question depicts two students sitting among desks and chairs in the school yard, looking at the wrecked school buildings, over one year after Hurricane Irma ripped through the campus.
In response to the image, Hon. Walwyn said, “To use our children as political pawns on a billboard for political purposes is low, even for the Virgin Islands Party.”
The billboard appears to be highlighting the fact that the school is still in its post-hurricane state, one year later; however, Hon. Walwyn last night, February 7, announced that works to the L-shaped building on the campus commence next month, with an expected completion scheduled for September.
“Work is expected to begin in the first week of March and we expect the shift system to be over by the end of September. The NDP has the matter under full control,” he announced to the gathering in the Sixth District.
Referencing improvements to the education system under his watch, Hon. Walwyn told supporters, “If that high school could have been built quicker, then there’s no one that could have the job better and quicker than I could have.”
These sentiments came hours after the Ministry of Education issued a statement announcing that a total of five bids—four from local companies and one from a St. Lucian firm—were submitted for the reconstruction of the L-shaped building.
It is expected that the L-shaped building will accommodate students who are currently being housed at the Clarence Thomas Limited (CTL) in Pasea Estate on a shift system.
The Ministry also stated that the works will begin by the end of March.
According to the Ministry of Education, the technical and financial proposals for the tender document were advertised locally and regionally, and five submissions were opened on January 30.
The press statement went on to say, “The Ministry of Education and Culture and the Ministry of Finance/Projects Unit have been working vigorously to finalise the process and have the building completed for the 2019-2020 school year.”
The Technical Evaluation Committee has already met and made recommendations for approval by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), as that project is being funded under the CDB’s $65 million loan.
According to the press release, once approval is granted from the CDB, the recommendation will be sent to Cabinet for final approval.
It was further explained that the successful construction company selected to construct the school building must complete the following procedures before works can begin: contract must be drafted and forwarded to the Attorney General for legal advice/comments; contract must be signed by Premier of the Virgin Islands; contract must be signed by Contractor; contract must be notarised; contract will be registered at the Supreme Court of the Virgin Islands; and an established date for commencement of work.