The Government along with the BVI Ports Authority appears to be on track to reopen the Territory to international ferry service in the next 10 days.
However, Opposition Leader, Hon. Marlon Penn in a media release issued today April 5, has warned that the Territory cannot afford to miss the timeline again.
Speaking of the April 15th scheduled reopening of our seaports Hon. Penn said, “We cannot afford another false start.”
He expressed that the previous two postponements; which he termed as the constant false starts stem from this Administration's lack of a thorough plan to effectively manage the reopening of our seaports and reflects poorly on BVI and damages its global image.
He mentioned that there are many persons across the Territory who have been unemployed or under-employed for over a year now due to the pandemic and these persons cannot afford to continue undergoing such undue hardship, therefore we must open our seaports and get our economy moving.
In addressing the plan to have ferries operating from the Cyril B. Romney Tortola Pier Park, Hon. Penn said persons living on the Sister Islands may not benefit from this change. Often shipping bulky items to the Sister Islands via ferry, this may prove to be a logistical nightmare for those persons; adding to the difficulty already experienced in finding parking and a designated on/off loading location at the Pier Park.
Adding to a potential logistical issue, Hon, Penn further expressed his fears that the lack of an operational jetty at West End along with ferrying persons into Road Town can have an adverse effect on the Jost Van Dyke economy. He indicated that businesses on the Sister Island are virtually on life support and the livelihood of the business owners and their employees would be at stake.
Hon. Penn stated that precluding the option of taking a ferry to and from West End might deter visitors from traveling to the Sister Island of Jost Van Dyke where many of the businesses depend so heavily on Tourism, noting that the current Administration had two years to ensure a fully functioning West End jetty be made a priority.
The Opposition Leader encouraged the Premier to ensure the necessary resources, equipment and systems are put in place to facilitate the reopening of our seaports and to open our Territory on a larger scale to visitors. Honourable Penn stated his expectation for Government to be more effective in its policy decisions as it relates to the reopening of our Territory.
Hon. Penn iterated that he and his colleagues in the Opposition continue to express that this administration has proven there is no plan in place for the economic recovery of these Virgin Islands.
The Opposition Leader further stated that the Opposition members continue to offer suggestions, both privately and publicly, to the current administration in an effort to help navigate the Territory through the COVID-19 crisis on behalf of the people of the Virgin Islands.