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Embarrassments in Our Capital

Donald E. de Castro. Photo: VINO/File
By Donald E. de Castro

According to Wikipedia, Embarrassment is an emotional state of intense discomfort with oneself experienced upon having a socially unacceptable act or condition witnessed by others or revealed to others... Usually some amount of loss of honour or dignity is involved. It is similar to shame, except that shame may be experienced for an act known only to oneself. Also embarrassment usually carries the connotation of being caused by an act that is merely socially unacceptable rather than

Old Administration Building- This building which was completed in 1866 was at one time the central location of all major Government Offices which in the early years, the head of Government who was then referred to as the Commissioner, later changed to Administrator and then Governor. This building also housed the Customs Department, Treasury, Post Office, Savings Bank and the Courts.

I am not able to give details of the original building. However, my recollection was that while the main floor of the building housed all those departments, on the top of the building was an office which was the office of the Commissioner. During the years as government grew the building was extended in the back by removing a large gennip tree and digging the hill, then the top floor was extended also. Next to this building was a Horse Stable where people would tie up their horses and mules when then came into town. Again as government continued to grow the horse stable was removed and the building was extended to the right. This part of the building houses a number of Post Boxes and then more additions were made until we ended up with what is now referred to as the “Old Administration Building”.

The reason for this short history is for everyone to understand and ask ; why has the past government and present government allow such a Historical site to become an embarrassment to the people not only of the Territory but to all who reside and work here. We all know that the problem with the first floor of the building was plumbing and molds. So why all the money was spent to repair and refurbish above the one area of the Post Office in order to accommodate the High Court Registrar by the former government and an entire building leased by the present government and leave such an Historical site in prime location go to hell. Who ever heard of the top of a building supporting the bottom?

Sir Olva Georges Plaza- Just facing the above mentioned building and between the Waterfront Drive and the Main Street is this Plaza, an area that was once the location of the Public Market, the Home Industries and the first Power plant that supplied Road Town with electricity from 6 P.M. until midnight. This plaza was dedicated to the memory of a great Virgin Islander who served his country well both in private and public service, and, yes the only Virgin Islander ever Knighted by the British Monarch. This man was born twenty four years after the administration building was completed, in which he later served his country for many years.

This Plaza was named in his honour in 1973 has gone through a number of changes over the years with the last upgrade a few years ago and the dedication of a monument on April 18, 2010. Unfortunately none of these upgrades have yet brought it up to an acceptable standard that would make all Virgin Islanders, including surviving members of his family and descendants proud.  When the dedication of the monument was being considered, I have no idea who the Sculptor consulted as the monument does not have any resemblance of the Sir Olva Georges people of this Territory remembers and especially the family.

This is supposed to be a place where people should be able to sit and relax, enjoy their lunch, take their kids to enjoy the fountain and in instances where public functions are held. However, it is mostly used as a parking lot, loading and unloading of vehicles. Look at the condition of the monument and you will see that one of the lights is missing and missing for more than a year before the last government was replaced.

Port Authority Building- This building houses offices of Immigration, Customs, Tourist Board, four Ferry companies and the Port Authority and is at the main Port of Entry on Tortola. While it is a beautifully design building, it was not the best design for the intention for which it was built. However, the blame does not fall on the designer but the one that approved the design. Over the years several modifications was made to improve it function, so that it may serve its intended purpose. The last three modifications were to the inter-island ferry departure lounge the international departure lounges which were impressively done including air-conditioning. Then a “Super Improvement” was made to the international arrival lounge, under the present government, in order to accommodate our residents when they travel and return home and to impress the visitors that come to our country whether on business or pleasure. In all my travels, I have never seen such an impressive international arrival lounge like the one we have that is made from canvas and piping. If you are wondering that is a tent bought, renting or leasing placed on the dock to protect passengers and their luggage.

Waterfront Drive/Customs Road Connection-  Those of us that drive whether the latest model vehicle or an old one like mine or older experience one of the most disgusting bump to the body and unacceptable treatment to our vehicles, every time we have to leave the Waterfront Drive to go on the Main Street via Customs Road. Customs Road is the road parallel to the Commercial Court House. And, yes, passengers in the vehicle are also affected.

Crafts Alive- This area I would like to believe was originally meant to be an area where belongers were supposed to be able to produce locally design and made crafts, paintings, drinks etc. that would not only make money for those involved but also to show our visitors the ability and capability of our people. However, because of polytricks, that never took effect. Instead it became a retail outlet for T-Shirts and other products made and assembled all over the world with little local products available and no assistance from any government to make the original concept work. It is now coming to the end of what the Ministry of Communication & Works calls, Revitalization in order to accommodate more of the same. Some of the spaces that I see available for rent are shameful as I have seen “Out Houses” bigger. With this Revitalization and what government is doing to these people, the name should be changed to “Crafts Alive Gone to Hell”. As a matter of fact people should not even be putting out their hard earn money to rent these chicken coops. Haste and poor taste equals waste.

Parking Lot- This Parking Lot or Car Park between Crafts Alive and the Ice Cream stand which is under the control of the Port Authority- is a total disgrace... Several years ago the former Director of the Port Authority had plans to improve the lot, however, the former Minister of Communications and work would not allow it as he wanted to widen the waterfront road. We now have a new Minister, a new Chairman of the Port Authority along as anew City Manager so lets us see what will happen. For those of you that are not aware is the responsibility of the Port Authority. Presently, there is a big hole in the center of the lot which was left when an electric pole was removed, and no one seems to care.

Police Headquarters- To add insult to injury we have in the heart of downtown at the port of entry the headquarters of the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force. In this office are the top brass of the force who normally are there Monday through Friday. While there need to be a Headquarters, there is only one constable and he is the receptionist. I say this because unless there is a matter of life and death, one cannot go there to make a report or request assistance. In addition to this, there is a serious lack of police presence in this area bearing in mind that ferries both inter-island and international:- arrive and depart every day from 7 A.M. until 10 P.M. on some nights, in addition there are pleasure and charter yachts using the same port of entry and, of course, businesses in the area.




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