A structure being built near the Tortola entrance to the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge to Beef Island will showcase the territory’s culture while serving as a “talking point” for tour guides, taxi drivers and other residents, Premier Andrew Fahie said in the House of Assembly on Oct. 17 in response to questions from Opposition Leader Marlon Penn.
Mr. Fahie explained that the $18,289 building is replacing a wooden structure where a toll collector used to sit years ago, but the government has no plans to reinstate the toll.
That structure was wiped out by the 2017 storms, but this time it is being rebuilt of concrete so that it can serve as a storage facility for “tourism-related items” and be more resilient to storms, according to the premier.
He added that a sign will be erected next to the structure to explain its cultural and historical significance.
He also said the project was started by the previous administration following consultations with the district representative and other community members.
Mr. Penn (R-D8) said he had received confused questions from residents wondering if the structure meant that drivers would be charged a toll again, and he urged more communication with the community in the form of a public discussion and consultation.
Junior Minister for Tourism Shereen Flax-Charles then interrupted to say that a BVI Tourist Board representative had tried unsuccessfully to return an inquiry from Mr. Penn about the project.
“I will have to defend the Tourist Board on this occasion,” she said. “The call did come. It was sent to the individual who is heading up the project. And he returned the call. He called several times and he got no answer.”
Ms. Flax-Charles (R-at large) added that she was the project manager for the structure under the previous government and that she did not receive any complaints about it.
Mr. Penn insisted that he did not receive a call from the BVITB or any response to his inquiry, which he said was placed more than two weeks prior to Oct. 17.
The premier then re-statedthat the project was approved by the previous administration, and suggested that Mr. Penn must have known about it in his former position as junior minister of trade, investment promotion and consumer affairs.