Road Town, Tortola – Premier, Hon Dr D. Orlando Smith, OBE has started a series of meetings around Tortola to chart the way forward with business owners, aswe begin the process of rebuilding the Territory following the devastation left in the wake of Hurricane Irma.
The first meeting was held yesterday with business owners in and around the capital city of Road Town at Tortola Pier Park followed by businesses in the 7th and 8th Districts. Just under 100 businesses were represented at the meetings where business owners spoke candidly with Premier Smith, who is also the Minister responsible for Finance and Trade.
Premier Smith quickly put together this series of meetings to address matters such as business continuity and how Government will support the overall rebuilding effort. “There is no question about it, we must rebuild and do so swiftly.” the Premier said. Keria Christopher, Director of the Department of Trade, Investment, Promotions and Consumer Affairs has been assigned as the Liaison Officer for the rebuilding process and has been tasked with getting businesses throughout the Territory opened and operating.
At the meeting the Premier updated everyone on security and policing measures which includes some 500 military personnel on the ground. He also shared updates from his meetings bank managers and insurance companies who have all reopened their doors and are actively servicing both private and business clients. For businesses looking to immediately restock and rebuild, the Premier has made it clear, that Port Purcell is open to receive regular business.
Premier Smith also shared that though there are adjustments to the usual immigration and labour clearing process, those departments of government are functioning again. Businesses who need essential and highly skilled individuals to get them up and running will also benefit from a relaxed clearance process.
Addressing the issue of electricity, Premier Smith shared that the Pockwood Pond and Long Bush Sub Stations are now online and as of Wednesday evening, power has been restored to parts of Road Town, namely the Peebles Hospital, Wickham’s Cay and Main Street areas. He also announced that regional and international assistance have been mobilised and items such as generators are on the way to support the functioning of businesses.
Dr Jerry R. Smith, CEO of Therapy Works also attended the meeting at Pier Park yesterday. While he reported that his Virgin Gorda office was intact, his Pier Park branch suffered some damages, but was pleased to have heard from Premier Smith directly. He said, “I thought it was an excellent meeting. We need more of this and more information to the public so leadership is very important right now.”
Excited to have had the chance to hear directly from Premier Smith, Aymen Husein of Hazem’s Beauty Supplies and Eclipse Hair Salon commented on the meeting saying, “We got positive feedback. It was good to hear from our own Government that we are going to move forward and we aren’t going to just stop where we are. We had a lot of questions and points that we asked and needed information on and we got some good answers. I am looking forward to us working together to build back up our country.”
Meetings were scheduled for today, Friday, September 15 for First District, Cane Garden Bay and the surrounding areas business community but had to be postponed due to weather. Those meetings have been rescheduled for Monday, September 18 at 11AM and 1PM respectively. A meeting for the Virgin Gorda business community will be announced in the coming days. The Premier has asked that business owners make every effort to attend these meetings as he is keen to spur on the rebuilding process and support the Territory’s local businesses.
The public can stay informed of Government’s response and recovery efforts by tuning in daily at 7AM and 7PM to hear from the Premier on ZBVI 780AM as well as visiting www.bviddm.com, www.bvi.gov.vg, www.soundcloud.com/bvipremier and www.tolaradiovi.com.