After many failed attempts, the National Democratic Party (NDP) administration has applied to the Town and Country Planning Department for approval to move ahead with its highly-touted proposed $250M Terrance B Lettsome International Airport expansion project.
With general election around the corner, a public meeting will be held next week to have residents' input on the controversial project.
On Thursday, January 10, government in a notice stated that the public is invited to a meeting to discuss the application made for the extension of the T. B. Lettsome International Airport runway on Thursday, January 17 at the Althea Scatliffe Primary School at 6:30 p.m.
“The Territory’s industries, Tourism and Financial Services, depend on having easy, reliable and affordable access to global markets. The extension of the runway is therefore about the future of the Territory,” the bulletin stated.
For more information, persons can contact the Town and Country Planning Department at telephone (284) 468-2158 or via email at email@example.com.
Outgoing Premier and Finance Minister, Hon. Dr. D. Orlando Smith had indicated in October of last year that strong efforts are being made to have the project progress before he leaves office.
This is not the first time that the project has been taken to the public. Some six years ago, government kicked off public meetings, but during the first two forums, there was major backlash from the community on several aspects of the project.
Residents were also peeved over comments by Deputy Premier and Minister for Natural Resources and Labour, Hon. Dr. Kedrick Pickering that the project is going to happen.
Government will be pursuing the project via public/private partnership, where investor (s) will be developing the airport and have control for some 20 years, after which control will return to the BVI Airports Authority. But in August of last year, Premier Smith was tightlipped about who the potential investors are or who the BVI Airports Authority was negotiating with in relations to the proposed expansion.
Premier Smith has repeatedly stated that the airport project is critically important, and even essential to the recovery plan of the Territory. So much so that the project will be eating up a large portion of the monies earmarked for the recovery of the Territory in the next five years.
In December 2016, government had selected a preferred bidder to execute the project—China Communications Construction Company (CCCC).
However, a few months ago before hurricane Irma hit the BVI, government had reportedly shelved the project following ongoing criticisms, including from its own sitting members.
Government has already expended some $6M in preparatory works.