BVI News

Ministers lament long wait, condition at port

Persons awaiting clearance from Immigration and Customs officers at the port in Road Town

Persons awaiting clearance from Immigration and Customs officers at the port in Road Town

Two government ministers in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) want immigration officers to conduct their duties outside the port in Road Town, Tortola.

Minister of Education Myron Walwyn suggested that the immigration officers be stationed in the neighbouring US Virgin Islands (USVI), while Minister of Health and Social Development Ronnie Skelton thinks they should do Immigration duties aboard ferries that operate between the USVI and the BVI.

Both ministers voiced their suggestions during their respective contributions to the 2017 Budget Debate in the House of Assembly this week.

They stated that their proposals were aimed at reducing the relatively lengthy time persons sometimes have to wait at the port to get clearance from both Immigration and Customs officers.

They said the port building is too small.

Walwyn

Walwyn

Walwyn explained: “I am concerned about what I am seeing at the ferry dock in Road Town. We have some space issues, yes. Perhaps you may not be able to build a new building now or expand it because you have issues on either sides. But we can do better than what we are doing.”

“You cannot have tourists coming here to your country and even locals on the boat – particularly if the boat is full – out there [in the port] for an hour-and-half standing up. Nonsense! We have to put a stop to it; get it fixed. Whatever we have to do, get it fixed.”

“I already made a suggestion a long time ago, and I will make it again. Let us try to get immigration clearance in St Thomas [in US Virgin Islands]. Get some of our immigration officers down there, the people buy their tickets, they clear immigration one time, go into the departure area…” Walwyn said.

Skelton, in the meantime, noted that putting immigration officers on boats would be a temporary measure until the port is improved.

“We need our ports to be more visitor friendly, and we have good ideas. You hear the minister of education talk, the tourists are coming; our port at Road Town is congested.”

“Why can’t we put immigration on the boat from St Thomas {US Virgin Islands]? They clear the people on the way up [to the BVI]. So when they get up, all they got to do is go through Customs. We need to be creative. We used to be able to do these things. That’s a good idea at least until we can get our facilities up to a standard that we all feel proud about,” Skelton further told his colleagues in the House.

Health Minister Ronnie Skelton

Health Minister Ronnie Skelton

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