Sick and tired of Bermuda’s “atrocious” roads and looking for repavement to ease up the impact on your vehicles?

When it comes down to the Government’s plan for the next fiscal year, your best bet would be to get used to it because it’s not over yet!

Unlike other Budget cuts for the next fiscal year, the allocation to the Ministry of Public Works “is $69,259,000 which is $2,249,000 greater than last year’s budget”.

Speaking at a post Budget briefing yesterday, the Minister, Lieutenant Colonel David Burch outlined his Ministry’s responsibility “for maintaining Bermuda’s critical assets and infrastructure as well as delivering the many services this Island depends on”.

Some of those “assets and infrastructure that the ministry is responsible for building and maintaining include” include 617 roads “amounting to 225 Kilometers of road surface” in bad shape.

Minister Burch said the Budget increase “will primarily be used to cover the five apprentices that will be hired within the Department of Public Lands and Buildings”.

As far as “the ongoing infrastructure upgrades affecting roads” frustrating the island’s motorists daily to no end, the roadwork now underway, “is set to be completed next year” – so it’s not over yet.

But the Minister admitted that “some of the road works could be a little smoother”, with this explanation:

“It was two years ago when we announced the joint venture with Belco and the Ministry of Public Works to launch a three (3) year plan to upgrade their underground cable network.

“The work is progressing across the island – I must comment on the state of the reinstated roads.

“The roads cannot be fully reinstated until a year has passed to allow the trench material to settle.

“We accept that some of the road works could be a little smoother and we will investigate to see what can be done in the interim.

“The Ministry will begin asphalting the sections of road that have been subjected to trench work in phases – beginning with Harrington Sound Road,” he added.

“The Ministry will continue to review its work schedule and budget throughout the year and make the necessary adjustments to increase the work load.”

Minister Burch said the Budget increase “will primarily be used to cover the five apprentices that will be hired within the Department of Public Lands and Buildings”.

The Ministry also plans “to fill some vacant positions that have been identified as needed in the upcoming year”.

“This will also include a number of solo sweepers who will assist the Ministry with keeping the roadsides clean.”

Moving forward, he said he looks forward to “the completion of various ongoing projects”.

“This year like last had resulted in diminished budgets across government with the position taken to strike a balance between services provided and the maintenance  of current staffing levels,” said Col Burch.

“The diverse makeup of the departments within the Ministry are critical to Bermuda’s daily functions and are part of the Government’s commitment to maintain jobs and generate economic activity,” he added.

Some of the assets and infrastructure that the ministry is responsible for building and maintaining include:

▪ 617 roads amounting to 225 Kilometers of road surface,

▪ 751 buildings maintained by Public Lands and Buildings with an insured value of over 1.5 billion dollars,

▪ 85 public docks and purpose-built berths servicing cruise ships, cargo ships and hundreds of private vessels and yachts each year,

▪ 5 reservoirs with a capacity of 2.5 million gallons of Bermuda’s precious and very limited freshwater resource,

▪ seventy-five (75) amenity parks, beaches and school grounds protected under the Bermuda National Parks Act 1986 and

▪ Ocean View and Port Royal Golf Courses

The Minister also discussed the “many mechanical challenges over the years” at the Tynes Bay Waste to Energy Facility, “with the most recent challenge being an overall shut down of the plant which resulted in baling of the garbage and temporary landfilling”.

“Thankfully our engineers and technicians at the facility continue to come up with solutions to keep the plant running,” said the Minister.

“However, we cannot always count on our good fortunes. So to err on the side of caution, we have allocated funding to pay Belco for energy should the plant be out of commission for any reason.

“The Tyne’s Bay Drop Off facility is another area that will be covered by the additional funding – which is currently being operated by Hunt’s Sanitation.

“The external hiring of equipment will be covered by the additional funding this year for the Marsh Folly and Airport locations.

“The anticipated revenue for the Ministry is projected to be $13,011,000.

“This revenue is primarily derived from Waste Collection & disposal, Water & Sewage Refuse, Electricity Generation and Property Rent.”

With a total Capital Budget of $39,634,000, he said: “A sizeable amount of this – $7 million dollars will be used for significant maintenance upgrades to the Tynes Bay Waste to Energy Facility.”

He also noted that the island’s public schools “will continue to be a priority” as part of the Ministry’s responsibility “for managing the Government estate of over 2,000 acres and some 750 buildings”.

“We will continue to work closely with the Education Department on aligning school buildings with the longer-term strategic plan for the Bermuda Public School System,” said Col Burch.

“Whilst the Education Plan calls for some schools to be closed, the infrastructure must be maintained so that it is available for future use.

“Plans are in place to carry out interior painting for six schools, with five also being painted on the exterior. During the summer vacation period, repairs and improvements to HVAC systems will be made in all schools.

File Photo: Education Minister Diallo Rabain & Public Works Minister Colonel David Burch

“Boundary wall and embankment work will be carried out at three schools, and surveys performed across others to inform long term planning,” he added.

In 2021/22, the Department commenced work for the installation of roof- mounted solar panels on four key government properties:

The Government Administration Building, General Post Office Building

Transport Control Department Building and

the Department of Public Transportation facility in Devonshire

Work on the GPO Building “is advancing apace with the GPO Building being the first to come online shortly”, he said.

“Building on the success of this project, and in support of the Government’s strategy to utilise alternative energy, the Department of Public Lands and Buildings is assessing financing and procurement options for solar systems on the rooftops of approximately thirty Government buildings.”

But he said: “The estimate for new bus shelters, Private Road Street Lighting, Minor Works and Miscellaneous Small Projects is zero due to budget constraints – none of these activities will occur next year.”