By Mellica McPherson-Ganda
Unemployment is now an issue of concern on Virgin Gorda, and the situation has prompted Ninth District Representative, Dr. the Hon. Hubert O’Neal to ask the House of Assembly to consider subsidizing ferry travel for those who manage to secure jobs on Tortola.
Despite Government’s efforts to assist employees who were laid off from the three hospitality establishments on Virgin Gorda, Ninth District Representative, Dr. the Hon. Hubert O’Neal disclosed in the House of Assembly on Thursday 23 June that many still cannot find work.
In an appeal to his colleagues the District Representative described the situation as difficult: “Some of the challenges I am facing in Virgin Gorda after the closure of Little Dix Bay, and Biras Creek before that and now YCCS … as you would imagine there are a number of persons who are now seeking employment.”
Hon. O’Neal noted Government’s efforts to assist the affected employees but he explained that the provisions were mainly tackling those laid off from Rosewood Little Dix Resort: “I want to thank the Hon. Premier for establishing the help desk and we have established too, a special committee headed by the Junior Minister of Tourism (Hon. Archibald Christian) along with his team; and I am included too on that Committee where we are managing the fallout from – particularly – the closure of Little Dix Bay.”
On a brighter note the District Representative said that so far a fair amount of those persons laid off from Little Dix have been placed in jobs. However, many are still searching: “We are continuing to work to have all those persons who have been displaced in positions around the Territory. I have an office in Virgin Gorda where I see persons twice a week, and more and more I am seeing persons coming to me saying that they are having difficulties finding work.”
In asking for the ferry subsidy Hon. O’Neal said: “I want to continue to push and agitate for my people where particularly if they find employment on Tortola, for example that some sort of assistance package could be arranged. Where they can get help for the ferry fees back and forth as they have to commute to work if they find employment here in Tortola.”
“This is one of the initiatives that this government that I think the Premier had mentioned that we are working on and I want to assure my people on Virgin Gorda that we are going to do our best to assist them,” he added.