Leader of the opposition Andrew Fahie has criticized Minister responsible for prison Myron Walwyn for allowing a $200,000 fence bought for Her Majesty’s Prison to be lying idle in Road Town for six years.
Fahie was responding to a BVI News Online article, which is based on revelations in the Standing Finance Committee that the fence was not used because it was found to be inappropriate.
During a recent meeting of the said committee, Walwyn stated that the fence was found to be inappropriate before he assumed office in 2011.
That declaration does not sit well with Fahie, who served as minister responsible for prisons under the Virgin Islands Party (VIP) administration before 2011.
Fahie today questioned why his successor (Walwyn) has not put the fence to good use over the past six years that he has been in a position to do so.
He also wondered if Walwyn has been ignoring the fence spitefully in an attempt to place the former VIP government in a bad light.
“As is the norm from government to government, the work continues. And, six years later – two terms later in the life of this now government, this matter has still not been adequately addressed. It is clear that there was no intention to have it addressed so that ill-conceived conclusions could be derived by the public, who would not have access to all the information.”
“Nonetheless, this is yet another fickle attempt to cast aspersions on the previous [VIP] government of two terms ago, as in the current view of some in this present administration that nothing good happened before their time. This attempt to have such ill-conceived notions as part of the Virgin Islands Party government’s legacy will be challenged and met with resistance. The truth shall prevail, because wrong cannot triumph right,” added Fahie, who also is the recently appointed Chairman of the VIP.
Don’t blame me
Fahie, in the meantime, is ducking blame for acquisition of the incorrect fence while he was the minister responsible for prisons.
He said: “During my tenure in office the minister, according to the Finance Management Act, was not the accounting officer nor had the authority to sign contracts; hence being accountable to oneself. It is important to note that the [current] minister (Walwyn) apparently has not been given all the information so he could have thoroughly researched the issue of the fencing project of the perimeter of Her Majesty’s Prison.”
Fahie further told BVI News Online that replacement of the existing fence at Her Majesty’s Prison had been recommended by different authorities.
Hence the reason a contractor was given funds to purchase the fence that has been sitting idle for six years.
“My clear recollection of my briefing on the project was that the Public Works Department (PWD) provided information after a site visit, where they agreed with the then Superintendent of Prison that portions of the perimeter fence at Her Majesty’s Prison needed repairing immediately to avoid any unwarranted incidents – seeing that security is of high priory of the institution.”
“The PWD gave the Ministry [of Education] the detailed specifications for the fence to be ordered forthwith – as well as the amount to erect it as both claimed it needed to be done immediately. This was also the view of the National Security Council,” Fahie further explained.
“Cabinet, not the then minister (Fahie), approved the information received from the PWD along with the contractor, and instructed that the fence be ordered as specified. The funds were made available by the requisite authority to have the project move forward. The fence, upon arrival, came to the specifications and approval of the then government technical personnel,” added Fahie.
Last-minute change in project
Fahie, in the meantime, stated that it was the government’s technical personnel who suddenly decided to change the scope of the fencing project at Her Majesty’s Prison.
As such, the fence was deemed inappropriate.
According to Fahie, the matter required urgent attention in order for it to have been addressed amicably.
He suggested that he did not get the opportunity to intervene because the 2011 general election was held, and his VIP government was voted out of office.
Fahie also explained what happened after the fence reached in the territory when he was minister responsible for prisons. “The then government’s technical personnel, at the last minute, changed the scope of the project, claiming that the entire perimeter fence at Her Majesty’s Prison needed to be addressed because of other weak areas in the perimeter fence at Her Majesty’s Prison that was recently identified.”
“Of course this news [to change the scope of the fence project] was not welcomed, because this should have been highlighted by those charged with such responsibility from the start.”
“This new situation was one that needed to be rectified, and instructions were given for meetings to be had forthwith to ensure that an amicable and urgent solution was derived in the best interest of all concerned. Shortly after that the 2011 general elections came, and the government changed,” Fahie further told BVI News Online.
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