Opposition supports Recovery Efforts
Former Chief Minister, now Leader of the Opposition the Honourable
Ralph T. O’Neal said Thursday there are several lessons to be learnt from
the recent floods that caused widespread damage across the islands.
During a press conference, four of the five Members of the Opposition
in the Legislative Council highlighted the damages done in their
districts 9, 3, 6 and 1. From his experience, Hon. O’Neal recalled that in
April 1960, there was about 8 inches of rain in one day, but the rains of
November 2003 has caused the most damage and compared to these times,
there weren’t so many roads and houses on the hillsides, so the damage
then was confined mostly to Road Town with flooding of the hospital.
Referring to his 9th District, the Leader of the Opposition mentioned
that several roads have been undermined, there was widespread flooding
and now a lot of potholes on Virgin Gorda and Anegada. He also spoke
of the need for the Health Department to work on spraying the mosquitoes
to reduce the increasing population due to the rains.
Representative for District 3 Honourable Julian Fraser noted that the
territory has been hit hard by the torrential rainfall. He said he was
able to tour his district and what he has seen was not good and
something must be done to relieve the suffering of his people.
He said the territory faced a similar situation in 2000 and his
government never flinched once to bring relief to the people, in fact they
helped people without hesitation.
“Conducting time consuming studies is not the answer…the people’s needs
are urgent...we must act and act now,” the MP D-3 implored.
According to Hon. Fraser, this experience should be a sobering one for
the government, who he said campaigned against building retaining walls
and paving ghuts, but “here comes a disaster which shows they are the
Sixth District Representative warned residents not to be led astray by
those who would suggest that the territory is now suffering from lack
of proper planning in the past where there were retaining walls and
roads not properly engineered.
He said the Minister of Communications and Works has assured him that
they will work together to fix the Purcell ghut, which clogged again and
overflowed onto the main road, causing tremendous flooding in the area.
Honourable Andrew Fahie, MP D1, expressed thanks to God for sparing the
territory through this flooding. He said his district suffered many
damages, especially in Capoons Bay, but he pointed out that the people of
the district made him proud by rallying together to assist their
neighbours in various ways to minimize the damages.
He also thanked government for its support and said government and
opposition will work together in unison to ensure the country gets back on
its feet. “This has been a warning for us to work together to build
the BVI even in adversity.”
The Opposition Leader said he believes the government means well, but
stated that this was a real baptism by fire for the just over 4-month
old government. “The torrential rains caught us with our pants down, all
of us, we never expected that and we want them to work as quickly as
they can,” he declared.
Hon. O’Neal said there is unity of purpose, but the opposition is
concerned that the recovery effort does not get caught up in bureaucracy,
where projects that should take three weeks take three months.
He said the opposition can offer the benefit of its experience having
dealt with five hurricanes.
In terms of lessons learnt, the Leader of the Opposition said where
there are urgent things to be done, no government must think they alone
have the foresight. He said the District Representatives know their
districts and when they come pleading with priorities, they should be
given some attention.
“Another thing we should learn is that there must be regular inspection
of building construction and everything must be approved by engineers
to reduce incidents of flooding and erosion and the standards should be
enforced across the board,” Hon. O’Neal added.
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