By FARRAH JOHNSON
WORKS Minister Desmond Bannister yesterday revealed that the Ministry of Works will spearhead a number of repair projects in Ragged Island and New Providence this year.
Speaking to reporters outside of Cabinet, Mr Bannister said the ministry has plans to begin construction in Ragged Island and to renovate a number of damaged roads throughout the capital.
In 2017, Hurricane Irma devastated Ragged Island, destroying most of its infrastructure. Yesterday, Mr Bannister confirmed that construction on the small island will begin “by the end of the year.”
“The demolition work on the school in Ragged Island will start very shortly,” he said. “The first structure that is going to be built is a school (and) there are going to be several teacher’s residences according to a really wonderful plan that our architects have put together.”
Stating that the school will also serve as a hurricane shelter, Mr Bannister also revealed that the building will be constructed to withstand 180-mph winds. Still, he said there are a “few challenges” that need to be addressed before construction can begin.
According to the minister, the constructors have to build residences for their workers on the island before they can start making repairs.
“When they take their workers down they have to provide cooks… and everything for their workers and then because of the situation down there, they have to be able to let their workers come up to New Providence every week or every two weeks,” he said.
“They (also) have to barge every piece of equipment into Ragged Island before they can do any building,” he added.
Despite these potential setbacks, Mr Bannister remained optimistic and insisted these factors will be a “wonderful challenge” for contractors.
He also announced that plans are underway to repair damaged roads in New Providence.
“We couldn’t do the work on Nassau Street until...BPL had actually dug it up and run a cable to The Pointe because we had an obligation to provide power at a certain level to The Pointe,” he explained.
“That is very expensive, that was costly (and) it took a long time to do. We are satisfied now that the power running to The Pointe is sufficient for their operations and so now that that has been done and all the utilities have come in…we can now pave Nassau Street.”
Still, Mr Bannister admitted that repairing the damage on Village Road won’t be as simple. “Village Road is quite a bit more complex,” he said. “Not only are we going to have to go in and do all the utilities, we don’t know what is under Village Road and so we have some consultancies looking now and making determinations as to how best we can find out what is under it.”
Mr Bannister added the ministry is also conducting engineering studies to determine the best way to go about repairing the road.
“Over the next year...you’re going to see us going there and upgrading all the utilities so that people in those communities can have wonderful service from every utility,” he said.
“You’re going to see us at every one of those corners, you’re going to see the (road) widened, you’re going to see government acquiring land so that traffic can flow smoother and then you’re going to see it paved.”
“It’s a whole process we’re going through to ensure that these roads like Nassau Street, East Street and Village Road are able to serve this country for decades to come.”