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Where we are now

Government House is symptomatic of the decline in the upkeep of public infrastructure (Photograph by Kyle McNeil)

Dear Sir,

Bermuda’s essential infrastructure comprises many facilities and services which the Government provides and the public pay for. This includes our roads, public schools/transportation and other structures such as public housing, bridges, waste facilities, medical facilities and buildings of historical significance, just to name a few. The Government has the responsibility for maintaining all of this infrastructure, and it does so with our tax dollars. Let’s look at a few examples of the state of some of our essential infrastructure today, with a little history for context (this list is by no means exhaustive):

Tynes Bay Waste Facility

Tynes Bay Waste Facility opened in 1994. Back in 2001, Progressive Labour Party government finance minister Eugene Cox said that it would be prudent to start building a fund to eventually replace the incinerator whose remaining life was short. In 2007, planned modifications were put on hold owing to the lack of funds, and overflow garbage was stockpiled at the Morgan’s Point site, until in 2011 the repairs were funded. Various Band-Aid modifications to the facility were made since then and the plant has limped along until recently, when we heard that catastrophic failures have forced a “stabilisation” effort from the Government, well in advance of the eventual $150 million complete replacement of the plant. So $22 million will be taken from that budget to replace some systems which are now obsolete. That’s where we are now.


We have been told that both the St George’s Swing Bridge and the Causeway’s Longbird Bridge would reach the end of their useful lives by 2021. Over the past 20 years, various governments promised replacements but only temporary fixes have been made. The original Longbird Bridge was seriously damaged after Hurricane Fabian in 2003 and it was ultimately retired in 2007, with traffic diverted along a pair of temporary Mabey bridges, which are still in use today. In 2008, the promise of a $90 million causeway replacement bridge was not fulfilled. Recently, this government announced temporary repairs — new steel beams — would be made on the St George’s Swing Bridge. The Government estimates that the cost to fully replace both of these bridges could reach $100 million. That’s where we are now.


Our main roads have been the subject of much public angst for some time and the state of disrepair and recurring potholes make for obstacle courses deserving of Olympic-level driving skills. The Government now has a “pothole hotline”, which seems to be working well, but it could just as accurately be called the “Band-Aid hotline” given how fast the holes reappear. The Government has told us that 50 per cent of all public roads are in poor condition and that it will take $100 million to resurface them over ten years. Just under $3 million has been budgeted for some repaving this year. That’s where we are now.

Montpelier House

Montpelier, a Grade III-listed structure, was built in the late 18th century and later housed senior officers from the British military. It was purchased by the Government in the 1950s and adopted as the official home of the Colonial Secretary — a position that later became the Deputy Governor. But the property has been left empty since 2018 despite a proposal from Habitat for Humanity to renovate the property, which was rejected. As of 2023, its present state of disrepair has prompted campaigners to call on the Government to either renovate the building or sell it. A vacant, rundown, non-performing public “asset”. That’s where we are now.

Government House

Government House was built in 1892 and is the official residence of the Governor of Bermuda. The building is suffering from major water damage because of leaking roofs and faulty windows, replacement is estimated at $2.5 million and full remediation work could take up to five years to complete. Several months ago, the Governor and her family moved out of Government House because it is not safe. Rena Lalgie, her husband and their children, plus the live-in staff, have been provided alternative accommodations to be paid for by taxpayers until the work is completed. That’s where we are now.

Sessions House

Sessions House, the traditional seat of Parliament and the courts, was built around 1819. Bermuda’s Parliament is the oldest in the Commonwealth outside of the British Isles and dates back to August 1, 1620. In 2006, the Government said the building needed a “mammoth” renovation and structural assessments were carried out. In 2013, some refurbishments were made, and then in 2018 major renovation plans were initiated and eventually some further exterior repairs were made in 2020. In December 2022, we heard that the restoration of Sessions House — stalled because of the Covid-19 pandemic — still remained on hold because $12.8 million in funds budgeted for those repairs were used for the pandemic response. Since then — at a cost of $184,000 per annum — the Government has been renting chambers in Veritas Place, in Hamilton, to enable our MPs to continue meeting. That’s where we are now.

Wantley House

Wantley House was built on Princess Street, Hamilton, in 1875 by a prominent businessman, Samuel David Robinson. It was there that Mr Robinson hosted a meeting with six other men and established the Berkeley Educational Society to raise funds for an integrated school in segregated Bermuda. This house, which played a key role in the formation of The Berkeley Institute, stayed in the Robinson family until 2008 when it was sold to the Government/Bermuda Housing Corporation. Since then, the house has been left empty and has substantially deteriorated. It was scheduled for demolition until various community organisations came together to urge its preservation. As of March 2023, no significant progress. A building of vast historical, architectural and cultural importance — forgotten and neglected, to the point of no return. That’s where we are now.

Bishop Spencer School

In 2011, this vacant, former public school in Pembroke was earmarked for emergency housing by the PLP government, but there was no progress on the initiative between 2012 and 2017 by the new One Bermuda Alliance government. In 2018, the returning PLP government announced a partnership with The Salvation Army to renovate the former school for use as an emergency housing centre. Ultimately, The Salvation Army concluded the building was too large and renovations too costly. Then in 2020, the building was ruled to be “surplus to government requirement” and the Government asked for expressions of interest from the private sector to repurpose it. It is still empty and in a state of disrepair. That's where we are now.

Teucer House

Located on Cedar Avenue, Teucer House was built in1903 as a private residence and bought by the Government in 1955. The Board of Education was located at Teucer House until 1970, when it was moved to the old wing at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital. The building was used as a health clinic and for Teen Services, and then vacated. By 2011, Teucer House had been empty for several years and was deteriorating badly, and in 2013 the building was damaged extensively by fire. A plan to restore the building was submitted in 2015, but never materialised. In 2019, this government asked for proposals to renovate it and a guesthouse plan was approved by the Department of Planning in 2021, but did not proceed. In May of this year, the Government put out another request for proposal for development of Teucer House. That’s where we are now.

If you have not yet added up the numbers, we are at an estimated $350 million of funding needed just to bring our roads, bridges and Tynes Bay facilities back from the brink. While governments in general do not have a good record on maintaining our public property, never in my lifetime have I seen this island look so tattered. When the taxpayers’ bank account is continually glowing bright red, we see how governments prioritise. And it’s not pretty.



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Published December 06, 2023 at 8:00 am (Updated December 05, 2023 at 6:47 pm)

Where we are now

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