By Esther Durand, BVI News Staff
Resigning his post as Commissioner of Customs after 15 years to contest the upcoming general elections, the question now on the minds of voters in the Fifth Electoral District is whether Wade Smith is the maintenance man needed to fix any issues that exist in the constituency.
To back his response of a ‘yes’ to that question, the Progressive Virgin Islands Movement (PVIM) candidate is presenting, among other things, his vision of building a proper emergency shelter in the district.
“We have to prepare for the next disaster, whether it is a hurricane, an earthquake or floods. After the  hurricanes, all the houses and some roofs were gone and I ask myself, where did all these people go?”
He said he intends to revitalize plans that were already in the making to construct a community/recreation centre designed to withstand category-five storms.
Along with a ‘comprehensive clean up’ in the district, the 52-year-old also intends, in the short term, to address what he describes as some pressing concerns such as sewerage in the constituency.
“Right now there is raw sewerage running in the streets at Horse Path,” Smith said.
The six-foot 10-inch tall political newcomer claimed that, while the sewerage is not always visible and was not visible at the time of BVI New’s visited the area, residents have constantly complained about sewerage affecting their sleep and overall comfort.
Smith said he also intends to address the constant flooding in Huntum’s Ghut, help those who are still living in hurricane-wrecked homes, and implement an after-school programme for students at all levels. This programme is a move to keep children in the district from loitering during afterschool hours, he said.
Fifth District economic tourism plan
In the long-term, Smith said he intends to do what he described as an ‘economic tourism plan’ for the district. The plan, he said, would be done in collaboration with private residents.
“There are a number of historical sites that are on private property,” Smith said. “There is a lot to be seen in the district, but it has to be done in collaboration with the residents and property owners.”
He explained that the idea is to find ways to access those historical sites or acquire them and, in so doing, provide a more in-depth cultural tour through the district.
Smith also said he would focus on ‘regional tourism’. The vision, he said, is to attract “persons to the BVI for reunions, functions, conferences, sports and medical tourism which will have people spending time and money in our shores”.
“As the Commissioner of Customs my hands felt tied and it became apparent that in order for me to be able to assist my country and its people, I had to make a change,” he said.
“In the past 24 years, we have seen our country handed from one government to the other and in those 24 years we are faced with many of the same issues such as allegations of corruption, overspending, mismanagement of funds, sewerage woes, water concerns, inadequate school facilities and the list goes on.”
Experience in law enforcement useful
Smith, a divorcee, said he has what it takes to lead, and detailed personal qualities such as being a team player, having disciplined nature, and having a commitment to serving with ‘integrity’ and ‘transparency’.
With a background in law enforcement, Smith said if elected, he would use his new post as a legislator to properly fund and merge local law enforcement agencies.
In so doing, he believes the territory will be better served and protected as the relevant agencies will be working hand-in-hand and not in isolation.
The Fifth District PVIM candidate said he would, in addition, influence the urgent rebuild of the West End port that was destroyed in the 2017 hurricanes.
Smith, who said he will largely finance his campaign out of pocket, enjoys travelling and playing basketball in his spare time.
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