Gilbert Fontenard, managing director of FDL Consult, former Communications and Works Minister Mark Vanterpool, and former Premier Dr. Orlando Smith sign a contract for a consultancy for 3.9 kilometres worth of roadworks last Thursday in the Premier’s Office. (Photo: CLAIRE SHEFCHIK)

In his last public contract signing ceremony as the minister of communications and works, Mark Vanterpool last week inked an $876,250 deal with St. Lucia-based FDL Consult.

The firm, he explained, will supervise the engineering, design and construction for a project that will see the rehabilitation and reconstruction of 3.9 kilometres of roads, drains and sea defence structures over the next 24 months.

The project will be funded as part of the $65 million Caribbean Development Bank Recovery and Rehabilitation Loan in conjunction with the Recovery and Development Agency.

“This contract which we are executing today will see works being done to stabilise our roads, slopes and embankments,” said the minister. “As part of the design process, a climate risk and
vulnerability assessment will be undertaken to ensure that the rehabilitated infrastructures are strengthened to mitigate against future catastrophic events.”

21 interested firms

FDL has carried out projects here in the VI since 2012. This time, they beat out 21 firms that sent in expressions of interest, five shortlisted firms and one firm from the Bahamas, officials said.

According to Mr. Vanterpool, the project will rehabilitate roads damaged in the storms of 2017.

“The road network on the western and north western portions of Tortola suffered severe damage,” he explained. “Other roads were degraded, and sea defences in different areas were destroyed.”

Consequently, the minister said, work will be carried out on Blackburne Highway to the Ridge Road, Drakes Highway to Carrot Bay, Cane Garden Bay, Ballast Bay, Great Mountain, Lower Hope, Little Dix Bay, Long Trench and Fish Bay.

He added that the loan contains allocations for a much larger scope of work, but as Dr. Drexel Glasgow, director of projects for the Ministry of Finance, put it, the first areas will be “low-hanging fruits.”
“All over the territory, we had areas that were damaged badly; the scope of works in- cludes areas [that] were very high priority, especially as the point of view of danger to motorists,” added the minister. “I know we have it budgeted in our recovery programme that we have a lot more roadworks to study and get on with.”

Asked why the deal wasn’t signed sooner, he noted that the contract was actually ap- proved on Dec. 15 and “I was hoping we could move on much quicker.”

Then-Premier Dr. Orlando Smith acknowledged the public’s patience in “having to traverse on deteriorated and, in some cases, dangerous infrastructure.”

Added Mr. Vanterpool, “We look forward to the successful completion of these projects as well, within the 24-month deadline and on budget. At the end of the day, the government and people of the Virgin Islands expect a more resilient road network that will be to the benefit of all.”