More than two years after Government made a budgetary allocation for the acquisition of scrubbers to address the issue of pollution at the incinerator in Pockwood Pond on Tortola, the said scrubbers are yet to be manufactured and paid for in full.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health Petrona Davies recently told the parliament’s Standing Finance Committee that the contract balance for the scrubbers was $493,725, plus the additional cost for installing and transporting the said product.
At the end of the financial year 2014, Premier and Minister of Finance Dr D Orlando Smith had stated that $1.2 million was allocated in the 2015 budget to fully pay for the scrubber system.
It is not clear if that amount was expended.
During a recent Standing Finance Committee meeting, Opposition lawmaker Julian Fraser noted that the government had promised to have the scrubbers installed at the incinerator by last year.
He went on to ask whether the scrubbers were installed within the aforementioned timeline.
In response, Davies disclosed that the scrubbers were ordered and an initial payment made for them in 2015.
She however explained that the original manufacturer was no longer in operation, adding that the engineer assigned to make the scrubbers had died, resulting in the project being halted.
Davies also stated that the scrubbers were eventually designed and approved. She added that they should be completed within weeks.
Meanwhile, in December 2014 when Premier Smith announced the initial budgetary allocation for the scrubbers, he told the House of Assembly that the project is important partly because the US Virgin Islands (USVI) was complaining that landfill smoke is spreading all the way into that neigbouring territory.
“This is an important project because we are being constantly reminded by our neighbours that we are breaching the air quality guidelines. We have got representation to the governor and other bodies, and so I am very happy that we are gonna be finally able to lay this project to bed,” the premier said in December 2014.
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