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Gov’t examines payment issues – VG work continues

Anselmo Stevens

Anselmo Stevens

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Communication and Works Anthony McMaster has assured residents that works being done on Lee Road in Virgin Gorda will be completed in time for the Easter festival, despite delays that appeared to have resulted from payment issues.

McMaster told BVI News Online last evening that Government is now working to help resolve the shortcoming regarding payment.

“I actually spoke to the officer in the ministry who is project managing that project and, from what I understand, there may have been some issues with payments. They are still working on trying to resolve that with the contractor to ensure that everything is taken care of because we don’t want persons to work and then not get paid. I wouldn’t want that to happen to me, and we surely don’t encourage it for anyone that is working for the government whether directly or indirectly,” added McMaster.

When asked to give specifics regarding the challenges linked to payment, McMaster said he was not in a position to do so.

“I am not sure; I don’t have all the details behind it. It is a contract that was issued by the government to a private contractor. I am not sure what the arrangements are between the contractor and his workers. Not knowing what the terms are between the contractor and his employees, it’s difficult for me to say whether the contractor is in breach of his agreement with the employees or if he is living up to that agreement.”

BVI News Online has been receiving reports over the past few days that persons working on the road had not been paid. Several attempts have been made to contact the contractor, Anselmo Stevens, but his phone has been ringing without an answer.

However, the Government Information Service has reported Stevens as saying that the project was delayed due to ‘unforeseen circumstances’.

Stevens, in September last year, received a $1.6 million contract to undertake the project.

Ready for Festival

The permanent secretary in the works ministry, McMaster, told BVI News Online that the work is now progressing well on Lee Road.

“Based on what I have been told, the work is progressing as it should. The project seems to be on schedule – unfortunately, it just happen to fall in time for the Virgin Gorda Easter festivities which sort a poses a challenge.”

“However, we’ve been over there with the contractor. The contractor is going full speed; they are working late into the night. They expect to do some pouring this weekend so that they will have all the farm work and everything removed by mid next week, and then they will be placing the slabs. So, in terms of the festivities, the road should not be a challenge and it should not impede the festival from taking place.”

McMaster added: “We feel confident at this point in time. Based on what we have seen on the ground [and] the assurances that the contractor has given us based on the programme he has implemented for this particular week to deal with festivities, we think that it will happen. There will be minimum disruption to the festival.”

A number of residents in Virgin Gorda have raised concern that the project may not be completed in time for the annual Easter festivities.

Political representative for Virgin Gorda Dr Hubert O’Neal said an alternate road may have to be found for the festival if works on the Lee Road are not completed on time.

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