Government of Montserrat

SOUTHERN CARIBBEAN FIBRE TEAM COMPLETES MARINE SURVEY WORK FOR SUBSEA FIBRE OPTIC CABLE INSTALLATION

Another milestone in multi-million dollar project to connect the people of Montserrat to the global knowledge economy
 

The project to reconnect Montserrat to the international submarine fibre network, and the transformational benefits and opportunities that come with it, continues apace with the news that the marine survey work required to install Montserrat’s new subsea fibre optic cable connectivity has been completed.
 

Co-ordinated by Southern Caribbean Fibre (SCF), a wholly owned subsidiary of Digicel Group, the survey work took place over a nine-day period, wrapping up on Thursday 16th January. The work was carried out by EGS Survey, using the survey vessel Ridley Thomas. Comprising two survey vessels, divers, marine surveyors, land surveyors, geophysicists, engineers and IT experts, the team of 33 people worked non-stop 24 hours a day to get the job done on time.

 
Montserrat has been without international fibre optic connectivity for more than 20 years when the eruption of the Soufriere Hills Volcano cut the island off from its undersea branch of the Eastern Caribbean Fibre System. Since then, all of Montserrat’s international telephony and data communications have been routed via a microwave network to Antigua.
 

Stephen Walsh, Digicel Montserrat, Dave Williams, Network Engineer, DITES; Simon Laugier, SCF survey representative; Denzil West, Director, DITES photographed on survey vessel Ridley Thomas.


 

With the project targeted for completion this summer, SCF was selected through a competitive tender process to manage, maintain and operate a new 25 kilometre fibre optic cable which paves the way for faster, more reliable and more resilient internet connectivity.

 
Commenting on the progress, Director of the Department of Information Technology and E-Government Services (DITES), Denzil West, said; “We have hit another important milestone in our project to reconnect Montserrat to the global knowledge economy with the news that SCF has now completed the survey work for the new Montserrat fibre optic cable. Once a final review of the data has been conducted, the project will be ready to take the next step towards installation and with it provide access to a world of new opportunities.”
 

Chief Executive Officer of Southern Caribbean Fibre, Valery Bijou, said; “We’re forging ahead with our mission to ensure that Montserrat is part of a connected global digital economy. I would like to thank the teams for their diligence and hard work and likewise thank the Government of Montserrat for its partnership as we work together to power progress for the people of Montserrat.”
 

CHANGES TO FERRY SERVICE SCHEDULE AS BAD WEATHER APPROACHES

The Access Division is informing the traveling public that it has had to make changes to the ferry service schedule, which will take effect from Sunday January 19, 2020.
 

The changes are due to an upcoming weather disturbance which will result in rough sea conditions, as seas are forecast to exceed 3.5 metres or 12 feet.
 

As a result of this, the ferry schedule will be affected as follows:
 

On Sunday January 19, the ferry will depart 06:00 a.m. from Montserrat to Antigua. However, there will be no evening service from Antigua to Montserrat on Sunday.
 

There will also be no morning service from Montserrat to Antigua on Tuesday January 21.
The Ferry Service will resume at 8:30 a.m. from Antigua to Montserrat on Tuesday January 21.
 

The Access Division will continue to monitor the weather system and provide an update if there are any further changes that may affect your travel.
Please contact your local agent for further information.
 

Ferry agents in Antigua, Jenny Tours on 1 268 722 8188;
 

Ferry agents in Montserrat, Jemmotte Shipping on 1 664 496-9912.
 

The Access Division (Office of the Premier) apologies for any inconvenience caused.
 

AIR AND SEA ACCESS ARRANGEMENTS FOR 2020 ST. PATRICK’S FESTIVAL

The Government of Montserrat has made a number of access arrangements for the upcoming St. Patrick’s Festival, as part of efforts to ensure the Festival is a success.
 

The arrangements, which affect both air and sea travels are outlined as follows:
 

1) Daily ferry service will be in place from March 9th to 23rd, with double runs on Friday, March 13th and Wednesday, March 18th. Customers are asked to revisit the ferry schedule, as a number of adjustments will be made to facilitate the increased passenger movement.
 

2) A promotional offer to all travellers coming from Antigua during our special events weekend. Customers will be able to travel from Antigua to Montserrat for only $150 return from Friday March 13th to Wednesday March 18th using any combination of return journeys for this period. This offer is only available to incoming travellers and must be a return booking. Customers are encouraged to book as early as possible to secure available seats. Bookings can be made online at www.ferry.ms or through our ferry agents.
 

3) Increased flights by regular airline operators; Fly Montserrat and SVG Air. Both Airlines have confirmed that they will accommodate the increased demand by increasing their daily flight schedule. Customers are advised that where a suitable flight cannot be found, they should contact the airline so that efforts can be made to meet demand.
 

4) Charter Hire of WINAIR for six (6) return flights, for the periods of March 11th, 12th and 13th and March 18th, 19th and 20th. Customers are advised that they are able to book directly on Winair’s website; https://www.fly-winair.sx/. Interested persons are asked to note that the flights of March 11th, 12th and 13th will be afternoon flights departing Antigua at 5:05p.m and returning to Antigua at 5:45p.m. The flights of March 18th, 19th and 20th will be morning flights departing Antigua at 8:15a.m. and departing Montserrat at 8:55a.m.
 

The following are the contact numbers for the related agents and airline:
 
Ferry agents in Antigua, Jenny Tours on 1 268 722 8188;
 
Ferry agents in Montserrat, Jemmotte Shipping on 1 664 496-9912;
 
Fly Montserrat on 1 664 491 3434; and
 
SVG Air on 1 664 491 4200.

PREMIER EASTON TAYLOR-FARRELL DELIVERS REMARKS AT FAM OPENING CEREMONY

Premier, Honourable Easton Taylor-Farrell delivered the following remarks at the Opening Ceremony for the Financial Aid Mission (FAM) at the Montserrat Cultural Centre on Monday January 13, 2020.
 

Your Excellency Governor, Mr. Andrew Pearce, Colleague Ministers, Deputy Governor, Mrs. Lyndell Simpson, Deputy Director and head of the Caribbean and Southern Oceans department overseas Territories Directorates, Mr. Adam Pile, Deputy head overseas Territories Department Mr. Indranil Chakrabarti and the rest of the Financial Aid Mission Team, Government of Montserrat Core Team, Senior Public Servants and members of the press core.
 

It is my distinct pleasure to welcome all of you to the opening of the 2020/21 Financial Aid discussion, and in particular I wish to welcome the DFID core team to what is supposed to be the last round of discussion on the Financial Aid package for the 2020/21 budget cycle.
 

I am aware that these talks are mainly about the recurrent budget and while these funds are vital for the delivery of every day essential services to the people of Monserrat and to pay the salaries of persons who deliver these services, I wish to thank the United Kingdom for the support it has given to Montserrat over the years.
As Minister of Finance and Economic Development, it would have been even more exciting for me, if for any reason a new tranche of development funds could have been included in this round of talks.
 

I note that DFID has agreed to a capital package for Montserrat extending over five years, of which one year has already been spent on administrative matters, and with the exception of the Fiber Optic Project, the remaining projects are still in the infancy stage. It is the intention of my government to work with the various agencies that are responsible for the implementation of these projects to have them rolled out expeditiously. And we will also work with DFID and the Overseas Territories department to remove any stumbling block, which will prevent the timely implementation of these projects.
 

These vital infrastructural projects under the Capital Investment Programme for Resilient and Economic Growth (CIPREG) are crucial for the development of Montserrat. We must retain and grow our population, and the delivery of high quality health care is one means of achieving that.
 

Presently, there is uncertainty among the travelling public with regards to access in and out of Montserrat, especially during periods of rough seas, as during these times the ferry may not be able to operate. If it rains within the vicinity of the airport during those periods, air travel is also impeded until the run way surface is dried—this is not good for business. This brings me to the resurfacing of the runway, another project under CIPREG: This project must be expeditiously implemented so as not to seriously affect access in and out of Montserrat.
 

The development of our tourism sector, although not an area under the CIPREG Programme, is a critical component for economic growth and we will continue to work with all of our funding partners including the European Union, to build the sector to the point where it becomes a meaningful contributor to Montserrat’s economic growth.
Aligned to the tourism sector, is the Little Bay Port Project, another piece of Montserrat’s vital infrastructure , partly funded by UKCIF and the EU, every effort must be made to have it completed and in use, within a few years.
 

This facility is crucial to the long term development both to the tourism sector and for importation of goods and services resulting in private sector growth.
The question you might ask, is ‘what are my government priorities?’
 

My government is relatively new in office, but we are very clear where we want to take Montserrat over the next five years and beyond.
 

We will be embarking on three key pillars to help to get us out of dependency and place the country on a path to sustainable development:
These three pillars are:-
 

• Tourism
 
• Trade
 
• Investment
 

1. As a government, we want to enter into a partnership agreement with The FCO, DFID which will further lay that foundation for sustainable development.
 
2. It is our aim to take Montserrat out of granting aid by at least 2035.
 
3. We are conscious that we will never achieve financial independence by depending solely on grant funding.
 
4. My government is about focusing on building a strong private sector. To this end, we wish to develop a robust plan for private sector investment, one which will attract local and foreign investors.
 
5. We will explore the possibility of redirecting some of our domestic trade away from the United States to the U. K: To this end we will be seeking funding from DFID for a trade representative in the UK/ Montserrat Office, to assist us in carrying this project forward.
After all the United Kingdom has been the mainstay of our country’s economy over the years and with your help we will encourage our local private sector to look for new suppliers in the UK as trading partners.
 
6. The United Kingdom is on the verge of exiting the EU, and as a British Overseas Territory and a member of both The Organization of Eastern Caribbean States(OECS) and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) with an accumulative population of over six million, we can see the UK and Montserrat both benefiting from some form of trade and manufacturing arrangement.
With this in mind we will be targeting some UK manufacturing firms encouraging them to set up satellites plants in Montserrat, with access to a Caribbean market.
 

It is my hope that very soon a road map can be established between the Government of Montserrat and the UK (DFID & FCO) to help Montserrat to realise its financial independence. This my government’s aim and we trust and hope we can work together to advance our goals and objectives.
 

Thank you.

Tourism Division to Implement Visitor Survey Programme

As of Monday January 13, The Montserrat Tourism Division, Office of the Premier, will be implementing an upgraded data capture system to survey visitors to the island. The Tourism Intelligence Solution (TIS) is designed by the Grenada-based company, Sonover, and is a destination intelligence solution designed to help analyze visitors’ data.
 

“The Tourism Division previously had access to the TIS via an OECS-funded programme in 2019,” commented Mr Warren Solomon, Director of Tourism. “We were able to test the Visitor Survey Analytics last year and were pleased with its functionality, as it would allow us to get a better profile of the visitors to Montserrat, their perceptions of the destination and an estimate of their expenditure while on-island,” he added.

 

“Although the system was tested at the ferry terminal and targeted cruise passengers and day-trippers, the Visitor Survey programme would be expanded to include air arrivals,” said Product Development Officer at the Tourism Division, Mrs Rosetta West-Gerald. She continued, “This would provide direction for future marketing activities, as well as highlight any corrective measures that may be required as it pertains to our service delivery.”
 

The Tourism Division views this as a critical tool for obtaining first-hand feedback from the island’s guests, which it will share with its stakeholders on a monthly basis. This sentiment was shared by the Head of Montserrat’s Statistics Department, Mr Sylvan Roberts, who commented: “We welcome this development since the database generated will yield extremely useful information that will be used in other key areas such as our National Accounts Statistics.”
 

The Visitor Survey programme will commence during the week of January 13, 2020.
 

The TIS is currently in use by the Grenada Tourism Authority and the St Lucia Tourism Authority.
 

Sonover commenced its operations in Grenada in 2014 by its local co-founders. The team brings over 30 years of experience in software development and its services are geared primarily towards governments, non-profit organizations, and other business entities within the corporate sector who aim to achieve and improve the efficiency of their operations.
 

ADDITIONAL FLIGHTS ORGANISED FOR FERRY PASSENGERS AFFECTED BY CANCELLED FERRY SERVICE

The public is asked to note that the Access Division has organised additional flights for Saturday January 11, 2020 to transport ferry passengers affected by the cancellation of the ferry service.
 

Ferry agents will be at the John A. Osborne Airport, Montserrat and at the VC Bird International Airport, Antigua from 7:00a.m. on Saturday January 11, 2020. Passengers with confirmed ferry tickets are asked to check with the Ferry Agents based at the Airports, to be allocated a seat on a flight. However, travelers are asked to note that priority will be given to persons with connecting flights.
 

Arrangements are also being made for additional flights to be provided on Sunday January 12, 2020. Further details on these will be issued on Saturday.
 

The Access Division is constantly monitoring the seas for improvements in the conditions, and will issue further information on the resumption of the ferry service based on these assessments.
 

Ferry Agents:
Montserrat: Jemmotte Shipping 496-9912
Antigua: Jenny Tours 1-268-722-8188
 

The Access Division apologises for any inconvenience caused.
 

NEGOTIATIONS ON MONTSERRAT’S 2020/2021 BUDGET TO BEGIN JANUARY 13

Financial Aid Mission Begins
 

GIU, Davy Hill Montserrat (January 09, 2020) – The Government of Montserrat and the United Kingdom Government, through the Department for International Development (DFID) will begin discussions on the 2020-2021 budget for Montserrat on Monday January 13, as the annual Financial Aid Mission (FAM) convenes here.
 

The annual mission allows for an agreement to be made on the budget allocation, and for key discussions on the Government of Montserrat’s strategic plans, progress being made on priority areas and a review of the 2019/2020 budget, including issues raised during the previous year. Some of the priority areas which will be discussed in this year’s FAM include the £30 million five-year Capital Investment Programme for Resilient Economic Growth (CIPREG) approved for 2018 to 2023; Access and Revenue Streams.
 

Montserrat’s Premier and Minister of Finance, Honourable Easton Taylor-Farrell and the Deputy Governor, Honourable Lyndell Simpson will open the discussions on behalf of the Government of Montserrat; supported by Montserrat’s core team which include the Financial Secretary, Honourable Colin Owen and other senior Government of Montserrat officials.
 

The FAM will open on Monday January 13, 2020 with an opening ceremony at the Montserrat Cultural Centre starting at 9:00a.m. The ceremony will be chaired by the Financial Secretary, Honourable Colin Owen and will include remarks by His Excellency Governor Andrew Pearce; Premier, Honourable Easton Taylor-Farrell and DFID’s Economic Adviser Mr. Laurin Janes.
 

The FAM will conclude on Friday January 17, 2020.
 

WEATHER SYSTEM CAUSES DISRUPTION TO FERRY SERVICE – FRIDAY ‘DAY TOUR SERVICE’ CANCELED

The Access Division, under the portfolio of the Office of the Premier, is informing travelers that a high pressure system in the region is expect to produce rough sea conditions over the next few days, which has resulted in the cancellation of the ‘Day Tour Service’ and will possibly disrupt other scheduled ferry services from Friday January 10 to 14.
 

Daily assessments of sea conditions will be done to determine whether the ferry service will operate and customers will be informed of changes to the ferry services following these assessments. Customers are therefore encouraged to monitor all media platforms for regular updates on potential changes to the ferry service.
 

Travelers are asked to note that the ferry is scheduled to depart Montserrat for Antigua at 6:00a.m. tomorrow Friday, January 10 and a determination will be made on whether or not the ferry will operate its normal return journey from Antigua to Montserrat in the evening.
 

However, ‘Day Tour Service’ for tomorrow, Friday January 10, has been cancelled.
 

Customers are therefore advised to review their travel arrangements considering the upcoming disruptions.
 

Ferry Agents can be contacted on the following numbers:
 

Agents:
Montserrat: Jemmotte Shipping 496-9912
Antigua: Jenny Tours 1-268-722-8188
 

The Access Division apologises for any inconvenience caused.
 

MARINE SURVEY FOR MONTSERRAT’S SUBSEA FIBRE OPTIC CABLE PROJECT BEGINS THIS WEEK

GIU, Davy Hill Montserrat (Tuesday January 7, 2020) – Montserrat’s new Fibre Optic Project takes an important step forward this week with the start of surveying works at sea and on land.
 

RV Ridley Thomas


 

The works will begin on Wednesday January 8, as a team of surveyors onboard research vessel ‘RV Ridley Thomas’ will be in Montserrat’s waters from January 8 to 14, 2020 to conduct a marine survey of the proposed route in which cables for the subsea fibre optic project are to be laid.
 

As part of the mapping work, the surveyors from EGS, working on behalf of Southern Caribbean Fibre (SCF), will deploy a smaller vessel to Bunkum Bay to conduct some inshore and beach surveys. The ‘Ridley Thomas’ will then sail away from Montserrat surveying the route towards the proposed location of the Branching Unit, northeast of Montserrat.
 

The marine survey is part of the work required to install a new subsea fibre optic cable system for Montserrat which will reconnect the island to the global information superhighway, via submarine fibre optic cables linked to Antigua and Guadeloupe. The installation of the cable is expected to be conducted in the second quarter of 2020.
 

In October 2019, the Government of Montserrat through the Capital Investment Programme for Resilient Economic Growth (CIPREG) signed a landmark multi-million-dollar deal with Southern Caribbean Fiber (SCF), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Digicel Group, for the installation and maintenance of a new subsea fibre optic cable system.
 

The Project is being overseen by the Programme Management Office in the Ministry of Finance, and the Department for Information Technology and E-Government Services (DITES) under the portfolio of the Office of the Premier.

ANTIGUA’S TAXI ASSOCIATION SHARES BEST PRACTICES WITH MONTSERRAT TOUR & TAXI ASSOCIATION

2019 ended on an enlightened noted for members of the Montserrat Tour & Taxi Association. Recently, the Tourism Division hosted the President of the St John’s Taxi Association in Antigua, Mr Patrick Burnette, on a visit to Montserrat where he shared insights into the operations of his Association at Heritage Quay. A lively and engaging interactive discussion followed with members of the local umbrella body for tour and taxi services.
 

Product Development Officer, Rosetta West-Gerald and President, St. John’s Taxi Association, Patrick Burnette


 

The St John’s Taxi Association is the official body for providing transportation and tours for cruise passengers disembarking in Antigua and has two hundred (200) members.
 

“The objective of this meeting was to facilitate an exchange of ideas between our neighbouring associations, while exposing the members of the Montserrat Tour & Taxi Association to the structured and regulated approach employed by their counterparts in Antigua,” said Director of Tourism, Mr Warren Solomon.
 

Mr Burnette highlighted the following key points that have led to the successful operations of his association:
 

• Professional standards
 
• The need for all association members to present a united front
 
• Taxi Dispatch System
 
• Uniformed appearance of all drivers and tour guides
 
• Consistent training
 
• Service excellence
 
• Observation of rules and regulations of the association by all members
 
• Collaboration between all stakeholders, namely the Taxi Association, Port Authority, Tourism Office, Police and Transport Board
 

He acknowledged that the level of the discussions was positive, and that there was a genuine desire on the part of the Montserrat team to get a better understanding of the way the system works in Antigua.
 

“One of the strategic areas of focus in our Tourism Strategy is to deliver exceptional experiences to exceed the expectations of visitors to Montserrat,” remarked the Tourism Director.
 

He continued, “The St John’s Taxi Association is a self-regulated body and ensures that everything is in sync in order to manage the transportation needs of 5000-10,000 cruise visitors who have disembarked on the island on any given day. Each member understands that he or she is an ambassador for Antigua and that is reflected in the interaction with their customers.”
 

He concluded, “The Tourism Division will continue to expose all local stakeholders to industry best practices, complemented by appropriate training, to ensure that our service delivery is on point.”