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Shame! civil servants working under open tent, collecting money, safety compromised

-When it rains at the West End, Tortola port of entry, officers under a tent get wet; Told to take shelter in their cars until rain passes; not even adequate rest rooms available
The tent under which Government officials are made to function under at the West End, Tortola, port of entry. Photo: VINO
The temporary toilet facility at West End port of entry. Photo: VINO
The temporary toilet facility at West End port of entry. Photo: VINO
A big pool on the road close to the West End port of entry on Tortola. Photo: VINO
A big pool on the road close to the West End port of entry on Tortola. Photo: VINO
A buildup of dirt and debris at the edge of a huge pothole near to the West End port of entry on Tortola. Photo: VINO
A buildup of dirt and debris at the edge of a huge pothole near to the West End port of entry on Tortola. Photo: VINO
WEST END, Tortola, VI- Of course there were two category 5 hurricanes that destroyed the Virgin Islands (VI) and most of its infrastructure. However, about a month or two later, Premier and Leader of Government Business Dr The Honourable D. Orlando Smith (AL) told the world, much to the ridicule and dismissal of many including his own National Democratic Party NDP) front and back bench Members, that we were "back on our feet.”

Well this is not the case at the West End port of entry on Tortola. Three government departments- Customs, Immigration and the Treasury- are working in the most despicable, shameful and embarrassing situations yet.

The officers were placed under an open white tent at West End after Hurricane Irma destroyed the ports building.

Not only are the government officers working in poor conditions under a tent not conducive to a professional environment for both workers and users, the staff members have to suffer the frustration of endless flies, mosquitoes, sea blasts and pools of water, nails and debris around the tent and when it rains the officers get wet.

On your own when it rains

It is our newsroom’s understanding that the officers were told to take shelter in their automobiles (assuming they have one) when it rains.

Another part of the embarrassment is the makeshift rest rooms. Female officers, for example, must use some make shift restroom that does not guarantee privacy or even security at the West End port of entry.

In addition, Treasury officers must collect government cash/revenue in an open area under the tent from private boaters coming to the VI using West End as a port of entry. This places all the government officers under the tent, along with users’ safety and security, at risk.

Acting Chief Immigration Officer Geraldine Ritter-Freeman could not be reached for a comment as she is reportedly out of office for the holidays, while Commissioner of Customs Wade N. Smith and Acting Accountant General Laurel L. Smith did not respond to our queries up to time of publication.

However, Acting Managing Director of the BVI Ports Authority (BVIPA) Mr Alfred A. Henley aka 'Al' said a temporary structure at West End to house the various departments will be constructed early next year.

“We currently don't have a set time line as we are still in the design phase [for permanent Immigration and Customs building]. A temporary structure will be erected early 2018 so we can resume full service from that location.”

According to Mr Henley, once designs are completed there will be public consultations then the tender process will begin to select contractors.

The BVIPA is responsible for restoring the West End Ferry Terminal.

Big pothole a few feet away from the port of entry

Meanwhile, motorists traversing the road close to the West End port have to contend with a gigantic pothole at least 3 feet deep.

A visit by our newsroom to the area this morning December 28, 2017, after many residents called our newsroom to complain, discovered that because the pothole has been there for so long small fishes and tadpoles are living in it. There is also a small build up of mud in the opening, which continues to expand.

Many residents had gotten past the big potholes on some of the main roads in the Territory following the hurricanes- road conditions that had brought much distress and wreaked havoc on automobiles, causing trucks and buses to get stuck, but it seems that at least some remain on a main road a few feet from the West End Ferry Terminal.

The port is still used for Jost van Dyke ferries that transport residents and visitors to Tortola daily; however, the situation for users appears to be unsafe, and needs to be addressed with some urgency.

25 Responses to “Shame! civil servants working under open tent, collecting money, safety compromised”

  • Belonger With A Broader Perspective (28/12/2017, 12:57) Like (56) Dislike (18) Reply
    Really Vino @" Three government departments- Customs, Immigration and the Treasury- are working in the most despicable, shameful and embarrassing situations yet." Are the schools on that side doing any better? People are still fixing their homes. We have to be a bit more realistic. These things take money and time. Hopefully when the BVI gets the money, funds are used appropriately. At this time. give thanks there is an employment opportunity. I hope they keep their word about the temporary structure.
    • Local (28/12/2017, 14:07) Like (13) Dislike (23) Reply
      Shame on NDP.
      • Ivy (29/12/2017, 02:13) Like (7) Dislike (4) Reply
        Are there no buildings in the immediate area they can rent temporarily?? What about a trailer? Do we need a rocket scientist? Come on now, its more than 3 months after Irma. You all pressuring poor people to fix their vehicles by the end of the year and look at this mess that could be given a quick TEMPORARY fix.
    • the rock (28/12/2017, 15:12) Like (18) Dislike (3) Reply
      I was thinking the same damn thing, people here grateful to have a job!
      • Local (28/12/2017, 22:28) Like (5) Dislike (0) Reply
        Safe working conditions should ne privided. That is the whole point of the article .not about the job.
  • SHAME (28/12/2017, 13:06) Like (39) Dislike (2) Reply
    The REAL SHAME is the fact that we appear to be sitting around waiting in the shadows for stuff to complain about instead of helping where we can. It took a cruise line from across the globe to donate a building to house schools in VG. What are we doing as a people? Nobody could donate a container or something to assist with the WE Customs/Immigration? All we are going to do is complain over and over? Where is the pride? Government cannot do every single thing. All the business people that raked in millions off both Governments in the past where are they now? Where all the money? Santo Hairy Bank?
  • civil servant (28/12/2017, 13:18) Like (10) Dislike (10) Reply
    The elite are at the ritter HOUSE
  • Socrates (28/12/2017, 13:30) Like (26) Dislike (14) Reply
    Ok. It has been three months since Hurricane Irma and Maria destroyed Customs and Immigration facilities at West End. You mean to tell me that the Port Authority could not acquire a portable building (trailer) to temporarily house government functions? Are there no carpenters left on Tortola that could have knock up a temporary building? Irma is getting blame for everything even the the sun rising and setting. I supposed Irma is preventing the acquistion of a portable building, did it? Did the MCW approved this temporary arrangement? It is an unsafe, unsecure working site. Is not government expected to provide a safe, secure and healthful working environment? Yes.

    In regards to the monster pot hole, Bummer needs to be shame and embarrassed with this pond-he on vacation too? Are Public Works Street Maintenance crews still on vacation? Is there no cold mix or cement, sand and gravel on the island? Is the hot mix plant still down? Has the MCW seen and approve this? Tell me he not on vacation too. He cannot be satisfied with this, can he? By the way, where is Dr. Glasgow? Is not he an expert in transportation? Everybody involved needs a cut ass for embarrassing the territory like this. This looks more like a 1917, not 2017 environment. Furthermore, they all need a dress down and shaming at Sir Olva Georges Square.
    • .......... (28/12/2017, 22:32) Like (0) Dislike (2) Reply
      Those dept.choose to go there. so now they have to deal with it until better can be done. it takes money to fix these things.
  • ABC (28/12/2017, 14:30) Like (19) Dislike (11) Reply
    What is shows is that no one cares for we the peoples
  • Gov Employee (28/12/2017, 14:41) Like (19) Dislike (12) Reply
    They do not care about US.
  • @Shame (28/12/2017, 14:50) Like (14) Dislike (17) Reply
    Explain this to me some government depts. Move to New locations, and after 3 months collecting huge sums of cash from the public for services, for they haven't put in any online means of payment, credit card, ath machines in place, putting their staff and the public at risk for highway armed thieves to pounced and create havoc on the community. It's reckless for these things to be continuing, by now government should have already have these machines in place to eleviate the risk of potential robbers, the word will get around that it is a cash base system they running.
  • Therese (28/12/2017, 15:32) Like (23) Dislike (21) Reply
    Government can't get a prefab building or a container for them? A down right disgrace.
  • New 2 (28/12/2017, 15:34) Like (11) Dislike (8) Reply
    Blame Irma for the destruction of the government buildings-- ports, schools ,everything. Which one of you would have done better? Come forward and do do so. PUT YOUR MONEY WHERE YOUR MOUTH IS.
  • crucian (28/12/2017, 16:06) Like (6) Dislike (1) Reply
    Season's greetings to the staff! You gals and guys rock! Great service!
  • stop complaining (28/12/2017, 18:12) Like (22) Dislike (2) Reply
    Oh my goodness. Y'all building destroyed. We need to keep the country going to pay u workers. Bare with it for a moment. It won't be forever
  • blessings (28/12/2017, 19:25) Like (16) Dislike (1) Reply
    They have a Job. Thank God.
  • SMH (28/12/2017, 19:40) Like (15) Dislike (1) Reply
    Now is the time to invest in the multi million dollar, state of the art ferry terminal that will guarantee returns gwnerating revenue, instead of investing in the airport expansion project that will only benefit a few and will not guarantee returns on an investment for a lifetime.
  • See (28/12/2017, 20:50) Like (22) Dislike (0) Reply
    Boo hoo .. Full pay to sit under a tent . There are people here in REALLY bad conditions and who have NO job.
  • boyblue (28/12/2017, 21:19) Like (24) Dislike (0) Reply
    Such a pity.. Dangerous and not fit for workers.
    Solution: Close the WE port completely and send the workers home to sit and wait for completion of a more suitable building.
    With no paycheck they will have time to explore other employment opportunities while evicted from their homes.
    Doc's s decision to not lay off gov workers not going well as they are in misery with no appreciation.
    Take them out of their misery, Lay den off!!!
  • The Reaper (29/12/2017, 00:10) Like (16) Dislike (0) Reply
    Stop crying like some big babys we have life.why we didn't beat up lrma or curse at her.and see where it get us.We sound so foolish.Get broom and clean.your working place..I aint gonna do it for....Strupessss
    • @ The Reaper (30/12/2017, 11:29) Like (0) Dislike (1) Reply
      so because we have life we must be treated like animals??? HELL NO
  • staff (30/12/2017, 14:31) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    We still hang on to the quaint notion that people matter in the BVI. Thanks VINO


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