L-R: Gilbert Fontenarde of FDL Consult Inc, Premier and Finance Minister Hon. Dr. Orlando Smith and Hon. Mark Vanterpool, Minister for Communications and Works at today's signing, March 15, 2013
Photo Credit: Melissa Edwards/BVI Platinum News
Finally, works under the $15.7M Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) rehabilitation infrastructure loan project are set to commence. This was made possible following the signing of a contract today, March 15 with St. Lucian firm FDL Consult Inc., an engineering company that will oversee works under the loan project.
Signing of the $499,500 contract was done between Gilbert Fontenarde of FDL Consult Inc, Premier and Finance Minister Hon. Dr. Orlando Smith and Hon. Mark Vanterpool Minister for Communications and Works.
The CDB loan project is designed to assist the BVI in rehabilitating infrastructure damaged by Tropical Storm Otto in 2010, while reducing risks associated with heavy rainfall.
Premier Smith during his remarks said now that they have met all the requirements of the CDB loan he is pleased that they are now able to push forward with enthusiasm.
"So here we are today, with great cause for celebration as the signing of this consultancy between the Government of the Virgin Islands and the FDL Consult Inc. of St. Lucia will provide the much needed expertise to redesign our road infrastructure that will assist in building a better Virgin Islands," he said.
He said the consultancy will also provide project management services for the project which is an added benefit for ensuring that the funds are used in the best way and for maximum results.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, $499, 500 may seem like a great sum of money to be awarded, but the value of that investment far outweighs the cost to our people. There is no expense worth the damages of a flood. And though we have not experienced it, there is no expense worth the loss of a life because of flooding," he stated at the signing ceremony.
The Premier stated that for the next 30 months work will take place through the Territory with a holistic view to assess and improve the entire infrastructure.
Minister Vanterpool while speaking at the event explained that under the terms of the agreement between CDB and government, the government was required to adhere to certain rules, one of which was to hire an engineering firm to oversee the project.
He said they went through the normal procurement process and received bids from a number of local and regional companies, and FDL Consult Inc. out of St. Lucia emerged as the successful bidder.
"And so I am quite pleased that we are finally at this stage of signing an engineering firm. This company is expected to see to it that the engineering aspects of the infrastructural works are carried out to the highest standards and ensure that the Government gets the best value for its money," he stated.
The Minister said FDL Consult Inc. will be specifically working with the Ministry of Communications and Works to oversee projects in Jost Van Dyke, Virgin Gorda and Ballast Bay, Cox Health Pleasant Valley, Purcell Estate, Huntums Ghut East End, Long Look and other areas in the territory.
Meanwhile, Dr. Drexel Glasgow Project Manager and Chief of Infrastructure Planning Research and Development, assured that the construction phase will only be opened to local contractors.
Minister Vanterpool also touched on the fact that only local contractors will benefit from the project as it relates to actual construction works.
"It must be noted that Government has moved to ensure that local contractors benefit from these works. Over 50 local contractors recently benefitted from a workshop at the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College, which educated them about the Virgin Islands Government and CDB procurement guidelines for competitive bidding and procedures, vulnerability in construction and preparing an effective tender document," Mr. Vanterpool said.
In response, Mr. Fontenarde said the firm welcomes the opportunity and will work closely with the Ministry on the project.
On May 18, 2012, Premier Smith announced that the UK granted approval for the BVI Government to go ahead and accept the loan for the rehabilitation of roads and drainage structures across the Territory. The approval came May 14 via a letter from the former UK Minister for Overseas Territories, Henry Bellingham, MP.
Premier Smith had stated that the approval is a testimony to the new mature relationship between the BVI Government and the United Kingdom.
The loan, which was approved by the CDB last year following an application from the then Virgin Islands Party (VIP) Government, was held up by the United Kingdom Government.
According to a press release from CDB regarding the BVI loan approval, the Board of Directors of the CDB approved a loan to the Government of the BVI equivalent to USD 15.67 million for a natural disaster management project.
Approval was granted at a meeting of the board in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. The project is designed to assist the BVI in rehabilitating infrastructure damaged by Tropical Storm Otto, while reducing risks associated with heavy rainfall.
According to the bank, this assistance will have three main components - rehabilitating and reconstructing road and drainage infrastructure to internationally acceptable standards; providing institutional strengthening by conducting a drainage assessment for storm-water flood risk reduction in the Road Town catchment area; and providing assistance for drafting regulations pursuant to the Physical Planning Act, 2004.