The government today launched the Cane Garden Bay Revetment Project that will, among other things, facilitate the rebuilding of the seawall along a section of the Cane Garden Bay (CGB) coastline.
Minister of Communication and Works Mark Vanterpool underscored the importance of the project, which is expected to be completed within five months. Representative of the Second Electoral District Melvin ‘Mitch’ Turnbull said the total cost for the revetment running 129 metres is just over $561,000.
Government is funding a portion of the project, which is also getting budgetary support from the European Union through the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).
“As we know, the seawall has been eroding over the years, and this has compromised the stability and safety of the shoreline along with the main road [in Cane Garden Bay], which is a major thoroughfare for residents and visitors to the island,” said the works minister, Vanterpool.
He added, “This Cane Garden Bay Revetment Project is of great significance to us here in the Virgin Islands, in that, it is a pilot project for a best practice, climate change resilient sea defense design that can be replicated at other vulnerable areas around the Territory. Therefore, we are looking forward to its successful completion.”
Vanterpool further stated that it is important that a community such as Cane Garden Bay is protected.
“Cane Garden Bay is a densely populated and highly trafficked area. It is a commercial zone, and it is a major tourist attraction in the Virgin Islands with its beach that is one of the most beautiful in the world.”
“In this regard, the Ministry of Communications and Works is committed to ensuring that this project to build a properly engineered rock revetment along this section of the Cane Garden Bay coastline is executed promptly, efficiently, and in keeping with international standards,” added Vanterpool.
He also expressed confidence in the professionalism of the persons who will be executing the project.
“Over the next five months or so, the Public Works Department of my ministry will work alongside the design and supervising engineer, Smith Warner International (SWI) of Jamaica, to provide day-to-day site supervision.”
“I am confident in the professional resources of the Public Works Department team, as I am confident in the local contractor – Ports and Marina Limited – whom I worked closely with on the expansion of the cruise ship dock in Road Town in recent months,” added Vanterpool, who also issued an early apology for the inconvenience to be faced.
His ministry is working on the project along with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour, which is headed by Dr Kedrick Pickering.
Dr Pickering, who is also deputy premier, played a substantial role in getting funding from the OECS climate change initiative.
He stated that the BVI can’t access funds directly from the EU, and so the help of the OECS is paramount.
“The government is involved in the project because the government is contributing something like $230,000 in a direct way as cash injection… When we had the design work completed, the money that was available wasn’t going to complete the entire project to our likeness…” Dr Pickering further told persons at the launch of the project.
He stated that about three community meetings were held in Cane Garden Bay in relation to the project, and the feedback from persons has been taken into consideration.
Dr Pickering also insisted that there is more work to be done as the BVI continues to be threatened by climate change that – among other things – results in rising sea levels. “Some people might say that climate change is something that affects China and the US and Europe and all that. But may I say this – as I continue to say – that the effects of climate change are going to affect islands more than any other countries in the world,” added Dr Pickering.
Protection of the beach, he reasoned, is among the important measures being implemented.
Cooperation from land owners needed
Dr Pickering added that more work must be done.
“Rather than trying to do plastic surgery, we want to make sure that we do reconstructive surgery that will be long-lasting,” he noted.
“Here we are now at Cane Garden Bay doing what is necessary to ensure this beach not only is restored but it maintained for generations to come. But I would like to add at this point in time, there is lot more surgery to be done and it is going to take cooperation from the various land owners… I know that does not sit well with some of the land owners when we talk about having to utilize land that is there that has been filled in for this purpose,” he said.
Dr Pickering, in the meantime, expressed gratitude to the OECS and other stakeholders for helping to make the project a reality. He thanked representative of the Second Electoral District, Turnbull, for showing ‘relentlessness’ in ensuring the project is started.
Turnbull noted that the project was initially scheduled for June, but it was pulled forward due to the impact of groundswell in January.
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