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Owed water truck operators refused to respond to bush fires- Hon Turnbull

- private water trucks had to be utilised due to non-availability of fire hydrants
A massive bush fire that was threatening the residence of Mr and Mrs Simon Potter at Meyers Estate, Tortola, on May 8, 2019. Photo: Facebook/File
Minister for Transportation, Works and Utilities Honourable Kye M. Rymer. Photo: VINO/File
Minister for Transportation, Works and Utilities Honourable Kye M. Rymer. Photo: VINO/File
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI – At a time when bush fires were an almost weekly occurrence during the second quarter of 2019, some private water truck operators allegedly refused to lend assistance when summoned because of being owed by Government.

This was revealed at the Sixth Sitting of the First Session of the Fourth House of Assembly (HoA) on Wednesday, July 31, 2019.

Meanwhile, Minister for Transportation, Works and Utilities Honourable Kye M. Rymer (R5) told the House of Assembly the Government is still in the process of paying private water truck operators for assisting to extinguish some of those fires that were especially frequent in the Second District. 

Hon Rymer was responding to questions posed by Second District Representative, Hon Melvin M. Turnbull.

No Fire Hydrants

According to Hon Rymer, “Of the five fires in the Second District, two privately owned systems were used to extinguish those fires, one homeowner donated the water and the other we are still in the process of compensating,” he told the House.  

In justifying the use of private water supply, the minister said in circumstances where there is a fire in areas without access to fire hydrants, the Virgin Islands Fire and Rescue Service would rely on water truck operators to assist.  

He said the Chief Fire Officer, Zebalon A. Mclean also has the power to utilise privately own systems in situations where water is still unavailable.

However, Hon Turnbull wanted to know when owed water truck operators would be compensated, to which the Minister was unable to say and the amount owed was not revealed.

Some truck operators refused to respond – 'Mitch'

Further, with some truck operators still being owed for services rendered it was revealed by Hon Turnbull that during the period some operators refused to respond to fires over the late payment and the feeling of being ‘used’.

According to Hon Rymer, “If the relationship is strained as the member has mentioned, I would do some further investigations and work to have them remedied.”

The Minister promised to address the concerns of the truck operators, noting he was not aware operators refused to respond to bush fires when summoned.

3 Responses to “Owed water truck operators refused to respond to bush fires- Hon Turnbull”

  • ... (06/08/2019, 12:02) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    but the minister of the subject refuted that
  • Quiet Warrior (06/08/2019, 12:23) Like (11) Dislike (0) Reply
    Government should pay its obligations and acquisitions in a timely manner; it should not spend money it does not have. For too long, government has been leaning on contractors to fund its operation; it is getting an interest free loan. Contractors should be paid market interest on their Billings. Contractors have to pay their creditors, take care of their families, maintain their businesses.......etc.

    Nonetheless, fire is an emergency and if not the extinguish quickly it can pose a serious threat to life and property. Consequently, refusing to respond may be a bridge too far. To prevent this situation, government must pay its debt in a timely manner. Contractors should offer government a discount for it paying early. For example, they can offer a 1-2% discount for paying within 30 days.
  • Well mate (06/08/2019, 12:32) Like (17) Dislike (0) Reply
    The Fire Service should also have a tanker truck to respond to fires especially places where there is a lack of hydrants . But government need to pay the water truck operators for aiding the fire service

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