Premier: delays in replacing infrastructure ‘increases the risk of catastrophic failure’
Lack of government spending on civil infrastructure has increased the risk of “catastrophic failure”, David Burt said while outlining the largest capital spend increase in 13 years.
In his Budget Statement yesterday, the Premier used the ferry terminal in Hamilton as an example, saying it is “one hurricane away” from being rendered inoperable.
“This Budget, therefore, contains funding for a number of projects that have been delayed for many years where infrastructure has passed its useful life and needs to be urgently replaced,“ the Premier said.
“Because there have not been sufficient funds budgeted, key infrastructure and equipment continue to fall into disrepair, causing the Government to spend excess funds on repair costs while the delay in replacing infrastructure increases the risk of catastrophic failure.”
The Premier, who said that $96 million has been set aside for capital projects, added: “Lack of infrastructure investment poses real challenges to our successful future and hoping things will not break is not a sound strategy for governance.
“In time, they will not be operable … failure to invest in our infrastructure has serious consequences.”
The lion’s share of capital spend will be on further investment in the Tynes Bay Waste-to-Energy Facility. A stabilisation programme costing $22 million was recently approved to take place at the site prior to the commencement of major refurbishment.
Other funds will go towards additional affordable housing units, 40 new electric buses and infrastructure for recharging, refits to the fast ferries and investment to accommodate students at Bermuda’s first two parish primary schools — Francis Patton Primary School and Purvis Primary Primary School.
Road users may be relieved to hear of increased funding to repave damaged roads.
However, a spokeswoman for the road safety group A Piece of the Rock said that while the roads are in a “deplorable condition”, she hoped to hear of measures designed to save and protect lives.
She said: “One final measure that was asked for during our campaign was speed cameras. They might deter speeding, which is a leading factor in many road traffic crashes.”
A spokeswoman for the Bermuda Taxi Owners and Operators Association said the roads have been in a poor condition for many years, causing its members to pay out excessive amounts of money in mechanical expenses.
Mr Burt said: “Additional funds have also been allocated to develop a new community health clinic in Somerset, purchase new public works equipment to reduce maintenance costs while providing key services like clearing seaweed from beaches, upgrade facilities that house public officers at the Government Quarry, Department of Public Transportation Depot and Marine and Ports work shed, and replace ageing vehicles and equipment for the Bermuda Police Service, Fire Service and Department of Corrections.”
The capital budget will also fund upgrades to court facilities and government IT facilities.
The Budget will see increased child daycare allowances, transitional living for young people ageing out of care, and care homes. It will also see the reintroduction of public health scholarships and air-quality monitoring, which was slashed in the last Budget to save home affairs $230,000.
A spokeswoman for the clean air advocacy group the Bermuda Clean Air Coalition said: “BCAC is not happy with the current status quo. Bermuda deserves far better from the home affairs ministry. This means better pollution monitoring, especially of Belco’s pollution.
“Air-pollution monitoring is needed, but so too is heavy-particulate monitoring from the soot fallout events that are seemingly never ending. How is the Government addressing the heavy metals falling on people’s homes and entering their water tanks and getting into their lungs?”
Spending will also expand social protections for families via financial assistance.
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