By Esther Durand, BVI News Staff
Several ‘road bumps’ are said to be major factors delaying the progress of residents receiving traditional cable television, since the 2017 hurricanes damaged most of the territory’s infrastructure.
That is according to Jamalie Thomas, the Retail Sales Manager at Caribbean Cellular Telephone Limited (CCT), which acquired BVI Cable Limited shortly before last year’s disasters.
Thomas told BVI News yesterday (May 16) that while it is likely the full network would not have been restored by now, members of the public would have been closer to getting the service, had it not been for external restrictions.
“We are still in the process of trying to rebuild. We did have a projected date in mind. However, there are a lot of road bumps that has since changed that projected date,” he told BVI News.
Thomas did not specify the said ‘projected date’.
“A lot of negotiations and agreements [have been] put in place after Hurricane Irma that wasn’t in place before and, in the meantime, we are being asked not to rebuild our network,” he said.
“But we have the equipment here on the island and we are ready to rebuild the network, and as soon as we get approval and authorization, we will”.
He said his company is effectively waiting on for the ‘go-ahead’ from government authorities.
The gov’t is not blocking CCT
But Permanent Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Communication and Works, Anthony McMaster said government is not blocking or delaying Cable TV’s redevelopment.
“They do have permission to start building their infrastructure and accessing [BVIEC] poles. To my knowledge and what I am aware of, there is nothing that prohibits any of the utility companies from moving forward,” the PS said.
McMaster said all utility companies such as the BVI Electricity Corporation (BVIEC) and BVI Cable had a ‘pole sharing agreement’ which would allow either company to utilize poles belonging to the other in an effort to bring service to the public.
He told BVI News he is not aware of any changes to that agreement.
McMaster said since the hurricanes damaged or destroyed nearly 100 percent of the poles in the territory, the BVIEC singlehandedly re-erected the poles.
“I guess that is as a result of the necessity to get the power back up throughout the territory,” the PS explained.
“Based on my knowledge, the companies are now negotiating the pole sharing agreement,” he added.
The PS said, in the aforementioned agreement, the government’s interference is limited. He said the negotiations are strictly between the BVIEC and Cable TV.
“But we are keeping an eye on it to ensure that all the companies have access and they are able to rebuild the infrastructure to ensure that the public is served,” said the Permanent Secretary, whose department has responsibility for the BVIEC.
When Deputy General Manager of BVIEC Henry Creque was questioned on the subject, he confirmed the agreement is being discussed between the relevant parties.
However, he said: “We are unfortunately not in a position to discuss the matter publicly at this time.”
Back in October 2017, Cable TV announced their temporary closure and said they would begin rebuilding the cable network once the electricity infrastructure is in place.
Since then, most laid-off employees at the cable company landed jobs at CCT.
While CCT’s Retail Sales Manager, Thomas, did not provide the number of persons who were successfully transferred, he said those who are no longer with the company have received severance pay.
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