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Fahie: Workers suffer as gov’t rejects free West End facility

Customs and Immigration officers under tents and bad weather at the West End Ferry Dock. (Photo provided by Andrew Fahie)

While sharing a photograph of Customs and Immigration Officers operating from a tent in rough weather conditions at the West End Ferry Dock, Opposition Leader Andrew Fahie has reprimanded government for negligence.

Law enforcers at the West End port have been housed under a single tent since Hurricane Irma destroyed the ferry terminal last September, and Fahie said government has ‘no excuse’ for allowing that arrangement to continue for this long.

He said the Premier Smith-led government has ignored all his efforts to help address the problem; adding that government has not provided any immediate solutions of its own.

“In December 2017… I expressed to them the urgency to have this problem rectified even if temporary measures are used. I further gave them a solution of an entity that wished to donate a fully retrofitted trailer to accommodate Customs and Immigrations as well as the flow of traffic of travellers from the ferries, and other means,” Fahie said in a media release Sunday evening.

He continued: “I gave them the person’s name and number. I informed them that, at that time, the trailer was available. I also informed them that the trailer was being donated free of cost to the Government of the Virgin Islands. The only cost to government would have been the shipping,” added Fahie, who said the structure would have taken nine working days to arrive in the territory.

A second solution

The Opposition Leader said he returned to government with another proposal recently. But, he was again ignored, Fahie said.

He did not give specifics on the second proposal he reportedly presented.

“There is absolutely no excuse for Her Majesty’s Customs Officers to still be in such deplorable working conditions under a 10×10 tent when rain comes or when the sun shines,” said Fahie, who further commended the public servants at the West End port for their resilience.

But, the Opposition Leader said those Customs and Immigration Officers are not the only the persons being affected.

“The taxi men, car rental companies, and other businesses that make their living from a functioning West End port facility [also] suffer significantly,” he said.

“This situation did not need money to get this port facility up and running in a more conducive manner for all stakeholders. It just took care and concern for the well being of others to have been the driving force to ensure that better was done from months ago.”

Government promises

Just last month, Works Minister Mark Vanterpool said government would erect a semi-permanent structure at the West End Port by late-April or early-May.

That was the second promise from the minister in relation to a suitable structure arriving at the port.

The minister first promised to erect a temporary structure in December.

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41 Comments

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  1. I wanna know says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 1

    If them doing this to spite foy?

    • What matters most? says:

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 1

      Yet we spent $7M on BVI airways and our minister’s want to spend another $300m on a runway extension to allow private jets to land.

      Is this fair?

  2. Huh says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 27 Thumb down 2

    We’re a 4th world country now

  3. On Looker says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0

    Fahie why bother this Government dose not care about anyone or doing the right thing for the Virgin Islands.

    • @on looker says:

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3

      does vs dose.

    • Hum says:

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3

      St. John and red hook are closed to international travel and we all travel to Charlotte Amalie, through very rough seas, without fuss. The building at west end was completely destroyed like the one in St. John. The west end port should be closed until they could build a Proper building which a cat 2 hurricane will not destroy.

      Blame the port board not government. They thought they had appointed the right people to deal with such issues.

  4. Laura says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 2

    Where there is no vision the people will always perish!

    Shameful all-round debacle.

    • Albion says:

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 1

      If it was raining any harder in that photo we could say “where there is no vision those people might well drown.”

      Strupes. Give the people some proper shelter so they could do their job.

      • Sammy says:

        Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

        Yeah, in the meanwhile Minister Air Miles jetting off First Class left and right.

  5. Doug says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 1

    What message does this send to the visitors to the islands about the governments capacity for resolving all the issues that Hurricane Irma has brought. Do we need the UK to step in as our government is unable to deal with even basic repairs.

    • Lilky says:

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

      You are right because that port should have been closed to international travel

  6. smh says:

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

    well sah!

  7. Concerned citizen says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

    Wow!!!

  8. NezRez says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 3

    Mind boggling! Fahie said free except for shipping, which is no bog money, and still they didn’t take the offer. Something is terribly wrong here and still making the workers suffer until they decide to build something. Mind boggling! 🤯😡

  9. Trevor says:

    Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 22

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

    • hmm says:

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1

      Who would stage being under a tent when rain falls? What about the children who attend school on the Cappoons Bay Field when it rains? Is that being staged too? Get real!

      • Poor Mandkind says:

        Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2

        My poor child had the cold just 2 to 3 weeks ago and she has the cold again. Everytime I go to that school when it is raining to collect my child, I lose a pair of shoes. Who do I go to to make a claim?

    • To Trevor says:

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 1

      Staged? Come down west any day unannounced and see for yourself. You all always trying to put up for this dysfunctional NDP government.

  10. My take says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 1

    Once there is nothing in it for them then they do nothing.

  11. Governor's say says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1

    This should fall under the Governor/Deputy Governor’s portfolio to have the staff properly housed in a safe environment…it’s not just a ports/premier thing because the Governor is responsible for the public service. A safe working environment must be on the Goverment’s immediate agenda for ALL public/civil servants.

  12. Thoughtful Sailor says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

    The issue is not Fahie, and what he has or has not done in the past. It’s the present. And it’s not just the Customs and Immigration workers, either! How about the guests who try to enter this way, either by private or charter boat, or ferry? These folks are our lifeblood. What about our image? Pretty soon photos like this will no longer be our tawdry Little Secrets, but online disasters for those who might consider visiting us.

    This government has designated $100,000 (yes, one hundred thousand dollars!) out of the 703 million dollar Recovery Plan to the Marine Sector, to which the same Recovery Plan ascribes 25% of our jobs. Not much surprise, I suppose, since they generally look at the Marine Sector as something from which to take, rather than something to support. But shamefully uninformed, nonetheless.

    What on earth is that $100,000 for? Here’s an idea: Four trailers and a dinghy dock for West End, so that not only Customs and Immigration are confortable, but also their clients, our guests, and ferry passengers.

  13. So says:

    Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 15

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

  14. Perhaps says:

    Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 10

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

    • @Pehaps says:

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

      You need to visit West End on a rainy day. Go to this site and also the tent city for a school and see first hand what people are experiencing. Those dam people in government just don’t care.

  15. Hmmm says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

    There’s no millions in this ports project so it was ignored.

  16. GM says:

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

    WE ALL NEED TO MARCH ON THIS GOVERNMENT AND THE WORKERS UNDER THE TENT NEED TO STRIKE ALSO

  17. ??? says:

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

    LOL…. If they ain’t getting wet under that tent, that’s a good tent….

  18. Hmmm says:

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 6 Thumb down 8

    I know young strong people in the district living in house which it with gov money build for them. Ask them to give back…knock up some wooden structure until Gov get there. Teach the parasites in your district to give other things than votes.

    • @Hmmm says:

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

      Why don’t you come down to the 1st district on a Saturday morning and call us parasites to our faces; we’re easy to find- we’re STILL out on the road, cleaning, helping our neighbors and working any time we can to make things better.

  19. Struggling Man says:

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3

    —- ———- needs to step down as he has done absolutely nothing for the BVI since Irma………..he is the reason why the roads are still in a deplorable state, why Disney and Norwegian will not return until next year, –told us months ago that this container for Customs/Immigration was on its way.
    Resign —- as you lack all the skills that are necessary for a minister of ———-.

  20. Huh.? says:

    Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 10

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

  21. @Huh? says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

    You also need to visit West End when it rains. Go down to the tent school and ask the principal the same question “Who continues to be under a tent during a downpour when they could sit in their nearby car or a house porch”

    • I know says:

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

      All these fa
      dders and mudders uncles cousins. Galvanize and lumber all over the place and in the landfill. But their children still under leaky tent waiting for Guvment…shameful set of =$#@$ At least band together and construct waterproof structure until Gov builds a more permanent one.
      POOR example for your children and they smarter than u think. They would wonder and resent you for not putting a decent roof for them because they know u can.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

    Andrew in all fairness need to come clean with your people. Some are not able or willing to face ypur reality. A reality that is geared toward p— using their b—.wont work though. The universe wont allow it. You know the other side of this saga but want them to believe and trust you. No s—– in your game and no c——.

    • @Anonymous says:

      Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4

      Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

  23. Hmmm says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

    But the prison gets a million dollars and 12 new Scot Prison workers! Sickening.

  24. ReX FeRaL says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

    Not one Government MINISTER or politician will work in those conditions.

  25. E. Leonard says:

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

    Every employer should provide and every employee should expect a safe, secure, healthful and quality working environment. True, the permanent facilities at the West End port of entry were destroyed in September 2017 by 2 catastrophic, Cat 5 hurricanes (Irma and Maria). But employees working under a tent some 7 months later deflates their morale and reduces productivity, as well as tarnishes the national image.

    Further, it creates less than a positive image for both residents and visitors. It creates a wow expression for visitors but not for the desired reason. Visitors should have a positive experience while visiting the BVI, returning home telling their familiy, friends, co-workers, congregation members, social club(s) members …….etc that the BVI is a must see destination. Does a tent provides that WOW factor? What can be done?

    Since the port is open for business and will probably stay open for business during the reconstruction, a modular building(s) (pre-manufactured, trailer) should/could have been procured and installed to temporarily housed Customs, Immigration, Security, Ferry Agents……..etc. Further, a temporary and more aesthetically pleasing wooden structure could have been constructed to housed these services.

    Moreover, the VI lies in the hurricane zone so it is not if it will get hit again by a hurricane but when. As such, public facilities should be designed and constructed to withstand at least a Cat 3 hurricane. Some public facilities should be operated to provide routine services during steady state conditions and use as rideout shelters during hurricanes. Rideout shelters should be structurally sound.

  26. LOL says:

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    And what about that rich person who wanted to rebuild the school and Government turned them away – they would only agree if the money would come to them for them to rebuild instead of the person organizing the construction and paying direct?

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