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.”
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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