Senior Biwater and Government officials during a tour of Biwater project.
Photo Credit: Melissa Edwards/BVI Platinum News
Groups continue to hold discussions with Government to register their continued disappointment over the BiWater deal which appears to be going nowhere as the company awaits approval to source water directly from the sea after failing to locate water on land at Paraquita Bay.
Bishop John Cline who has sharply criticized the contract and was part of a march intended to force the former Virgin Islands Party (VIP) Government to opt out of the deal. However, since the National Democratic Party (NDP) administration took up office, some critics have not publicly addressed the issue.
Some members of the NDP have also been critical about the BiWater deal and Bishop Cline told BVI Platinum News that meetings have been held with the Minister for Communications and Works, Hon. Mark Vanterpool to get the Government's position on the contract.
"Before someone like me take to the street you would always find that we try to lobby government in the background and that has gone on with this government just the same. We have expressed our dissatisfaction with this contract and we have spoken to some of his [Minister Vanterpool] colleagues about this contract. So it´s not that we took to the street on one government and we are giving this government a free ride, but it only comes to that [protest] when a government is not listening, and we felt that at least we had an ear in this instance that they are listening and they are saying to us well -these are the challenges we face with the contract; it wasn´t our contract, we didn´t sign it; it's not as easy to break as you might think," Bishop Cline stated.
He added that it has always been the position of the persons who protested the contract, that the track record of BiWater in other countries is not good because they were unable to deliver on what they promised.
"Just on their mere track record we were saying to our government this company is not good for our Territory, second to that we had a local company that had a proven track record to deliver water to the people to this territory."
Cline added, "So we took the position that when I think any government should when your own people can supply what you need you give them the first opportunity to do that and you only go outside when they can´t do it and they did not prove to us that the company cannot do it and as a matter of fact we had all the evidence to show that BiWater had failed around the world."
He believes that any loophole the government could get out of the contract they should still get out because it's a very costly contract and exposes the BVI to a high financial obligation that is not necessary over a period of 16 years.
"As far as understand it, it is a very binding contract and for them to just get it is not as easy because of how the contract is structured," Bishop Cline stated.
BiWater Wants More Time
Still unable to access water to feed their Paraquita Bay plant, BiWater BVI has written to Government requesting a further extension on their promise to deliver water by November of this year.
Minister Vanterpool had previously informed the House of Assembly that BiWater had indicated that the delivery of water was November 30th 2012.
However, during the sitting of the House on September 3, the Minister was asked by Third District Representative, Hon. Julian Fraser about the project and the status of raw water and electricity.
Previously persons have approached Hon. Fraser while he was Communications and Works Minister in an attempt to have the deal quashed. However, Hon. Fraser and the VIP Government at the time insisted that the deal was good.
With regard to the raw water source, Minister Vanterpool stated that an application that has been filed by BiWater involves a number of governmental agencies. According to the Minister, the Ministry received a copy of the final Environment Impact Assessment [EIA] on August 23 that was requested by the Town and Country Planning Department under the application requirements.
The Minister stated that other requirements of the application such as the Sea Bed lease are in progress. He added that BiWater has requested an extension of six months after approval of the application by Town and Country Planning Department.
The Minister disclosed that the BIWater request for an extension is being processed through the Ministry of Communications and Works and the Attorney General´s Office.
Minister Vanterpool explained that BiWater was expected to get water by wells and they indicated earlier that the wells were not providing water as expected and they were supposed to have gotten water by a source at sea by going through the Paraquita Bay pond.