Greenrock: We risk infrastructure collapse
Bermuda must focus on the long-term sustainability of its infrastructure or face serious problems in the future, environmental charity Greenrock has warned.
The organisation's director Jonathan Starling, along with shadow environment minister Dennis Lister, called for the abandoned National Infrastructure Plan to be resurrected, to help find a lasting solution to the issue.
“If we don't approach infrastructure from a sustainability perspective, or if maintenance takes a back seat, that risks infrastructural collapse,” Mr Starling said.
“I don't even want to think of a catastrophic collapse of key infrastructure like a bridge.”
In 2012, the Government contracted PwC to create a two-phase report — the first providing a broad overview of the island's infrastructure and the second to deliver the NIP. However, after Phase I was completed, at a cost of $58,000, the idea was scrapped.
“I was disappointed that it didn't continue,” Mr Starling said.
“An NIP would help Government prioritise what is essential and identify where investment needs to be made most efficiently, rather than universal ‘one-size-fits-all' austerity approaches.
“It would allow for smart decision-making from a sustainability perspective and help set out what is needed, why it's needed, how it will interact with other components and the impacts involved.”
Mr Starling added that an NIP might help bring investment to the island.
“It could serve as a sales tool for Bermuda in attracting new business, both directly in terms of investing in the infrastructure itself, and for businesses considering whether Bermuda's infrastructure is beneficial for them to be here long-term,” he said.
Mr Starling said that he did not believe enough was being done to prepare for Bermuda's future in the long run.
“I think there's a risk to engage in short-term initiatives without considering the long-term sustainability of them,” he added.
“We need to be smart in our infrastructure investments, and place sustainability at the centre of such decisions, rather than a short-term vision of fleeting profit and long-term costs.”
Mr Lister criticised the poor condition of the roads in certain parts of the island, adding that the matter could turn into an international embarrassment next year.
He said: “We keep hearing about the America's Cup in 2017. It's taking place in the West End, which right now has some of the worst road conditions and infrastructure issues in the country.
“I think we need to dust off the infrastructure report, and figure out how we're going to implement some of the things it highlighted.”
According to the 2016-17 budget statement, more than $1.8 billion will be spent — from public and private funds — in infrastructure projects over the next five years.
A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Public Works said that a comprehensive infrastructure plan is now being developed.
She added: “In essence, the plan will bring together all the government's infrastructure priorities over the next five to ten years.
“It will improve and upgrade the existing infrastructure and to deliver important projects that are vital to grow the economy and improve people's lives.
“The plan is in the early stages of development. However, the ministry remains committed to carrying out our mandate of maintaining the present infrastructure and service levels with the funding and resources provided.”