Fibre-optics delay is a set-up

But by whom? Should they get away!

By Bennette Roach

The absence of the reinstallation project of fiberoptic cables to Montserrat has begun to make rounds in supposedly important circles in Montserrat, but it is difficult to understand the utterances and the discussions. Some, one observer say is relevant but still does not meet the discussion.

The Montserrat Reporter has learnt the delay in this already long approved Fibre-Optic reinstallation back in 2013 in Montserrat was seriously affected by someone with knowledge of what strings to pull at a time when the UK high spend share of its budget, Department for International Development was undergoing scrutiny and review occasioned by its new Minister Priti Patel. So it was that Expressions of Interest request was published under date May 28, 2013. What ever happened between then and 2016 it was submitted again this time by DFID for a Response Required By Mon 29 August 2016.

Governor Carriere and Premier Romeo

Premier Romeo made reference to this in his meeting with Montserratians in London recently few weeks ago. He lamented on this among other projects which have been languishing. Very recently Minister of Communications and Works reported that there has been no progress on the project but that it was hoped to be revised soon.

Back when the business case for this project was among others, it was sought through such arguments. “(By reducing the cost of electricity geothermal will open up new possibilities of export production.) Installation of fibre-optic will boost the growth of high-value knowledge intensive industries. MDC should continue to be at the forefront on how to best capitalise on these newly arising opportunities for attracting inward investment and to the wider benefit of local tourism, light-manufacturing and export-oriented businesses.

Comms & Works Minister Paul Lewis

It was held that “Achieving this requires a complex, inter-dependent package of potential projects which include the LB/CB development, investment in geothermal energy, reinstallation of a fibre optic cable link, improved sea access, and improvements in the island’s access infrastructure (primarily a new breakwater and port at Carr’s Bay). All of these are to be supported by a substantial reform programme to improve the enabling environment for sustainable socio-economic development of the island through private sector growth, governance and institutional capacity.”

So, it was part of the strengthening of the Montserrat Development Corporation to attract private sector investment, 2013/14 – 2015/16.

Eventually in the Intervention Summary it came to provide financial assistance to the Government of Montserrat for priority infrastructure requirements.

Private Sector Adviser and in-country representative, Kato Kimbugwe

Dr. Kato Kimbugwe when he left Montserrat was proud that he had left the project well on its way to final approval, and so it was announced on July 22, 2016 by his replacement, Dawson of already two years. “Yes, I’m very pleased to announce that the fiber optic project was formally approved I think two weeks ago today and the prequalification stage of the procurement has started in fact that started today…prequalification questionnaire which is due back in to DFID, I think on the 22nd of August; and on another base of that they’ll go to the next stage of issuing tender documents so very positive on that one and I’m pleased to announce that…” Dawson had said.

Two months later on Sept. 23, at the Governor’s press conference he reported: “…So we’re now moving to the next stage which is the invitation to tender process. So, we’re going to be I think a pretty big meeting with some of those potential tenders just make sure they’re actually clear what we’re asking them to provide and then we’ll launch the I.T.T. as it’s called. I would hope it will happen within the next two months if not earlier because a number of the procurement activities are going on (such as ferry procurement)… we need to be focusing on the moment.”

But that ferry procurement turned out to be a saga and a fiasco resulted that required direct intervention with the UK heads. It resulted in a consultant/TC to be unceremoniously dismissed from Montserrat. It had been rumoured that the local DF ID representative’s head was also on the block, but he later at the September 2016 press conference, laugh at the suggestion of him being fired. (Today it is suspected he may have colluded later to stall the fibre optic reinstallation process). He is due to leave the post as announced earlier, having completed an extened two to three-year term.

Martin Dawson

We should note that in December when the process supposedly had been progressing safely, the UK Sun and the Daily Mail published a very dubious article which we published fully. See: £5million on Fibre Optic Cable offends UK media at www.themontserratreporter.com – Posted on 06 January 2017, at www.themontserratreporter.com.

The claim – super-fast broadband for a tiny Caribbean island despite terrible connection speeds in the UK – DFID is blowing the fortune to construct an underwater fibre optic cable to the volcanic island of Montserrat, which has a population of just 4,900 by the (UK) Sun written by By Harry Cole, Wesminister correspondent.

It is claimed amazingly by our own government that this and other articles was responsible for the delay in the fibre-optic project onward delivery.

 We were later able to confirm that as noted in a DFID report on financing to Montserrat in 2016 some £100,000 had indeed been set aside for that step. The tender has been awarded according to some documentation available.

The article did leave much to be desired. It was supported by what we refer to as ignorant complaints coming from: a Barmaid, a Builder, a Pub landlord, a Cafe boss, a Shop owner, a Factory worker, a Waitress!

There was a simple response by the UK govt. but one equally ill-informed Tory referred to the funding as ‘overseas aid’. Former DFID minister Grant Shapps hit out: “It will be far easier to maintain support for overseas aid if we can get our own infrastructure needs in order,” he said seemingly to the writer.

It is not certain whether this is the same Tory who the Sun says – The Tory MP who heads up the BIG infrastructure campaign added: “Super speed broadband isn’t just some nice to have extra, it’s vital to British success outside of the EU and we need to get every British home and business connected and world beating speeds.”

While a DFID spokesman said: “Following the devastating eruption in the UK overseas territory, we’ve met our legal obligations to Montserrat by investing in the vital infrastructure needed for the island to stand on its own two feet again.”

It seems that our information that this article was encouraged out of some sort of ‘hit back’ on Montserrat. But should it have really been so effective to stop or slow the project, as we hope that is all it is. That MP’s quote was not lost in another article of January 5, 2017 by Mark Jackson (ISP Review). See: http://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2017/01/uk-gov-commits-4-94m-help-deploy-fibre-broadband-montserrat.html

See ISP Review video on Montserrat’s volcanic destruction of Plymouth:

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The Montserrat Reporter - August 18, 2017

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But by whom? Should they get away!

By Bennette Roach

The absence of the reinstallation project of fiberoptic cables to Montserrat has begun to make rounds in supposedly important circles in Montserrat, but it is difficult to understand the utterances and the discussions. Some, one observer say is relevant but still does not meet the discussion.

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The Montserrat Reporter has learnt the delay in this already long approved Fibre-Optic reinstallation back in 2013 in Montserrat was seriously affected by someone with knowledge of what strings to pull at a time when the UK high spend share of its budget, Department for International Development was undergoing scrutiny and review occasioned by its new Minister Priti Patel. So it was that Expressions of Interest request was published under date May 28, 2013. What ever happened between then and 2016 it was submitted again this time by DFID for a Response Required By Mon 29 August 2016.

Governor Carriere and Premier Romeo

Premier Romeo made reference to this in his meeting with Montserratians in London recently few weeks ago. He lamented on this among other projects which have been languishing. Very recently Minister of Communications and Works reported that there has been no progress on the project but that it was hoped to be revised soon.

Back when the business case for this project was among others, it was sought through such arguments. “(By reducing the cost of electricity geothermal will open up new possibilities of export production.) Installation of fibre-optic will boost the growth of high-value knowledge intensive industries. MDC should continue to be at the forefront on how to best capitalise on these newly arising opportunities for attracting inward investment and to the wider benefit of local tourism, light-manufacturing and export-oriented businesses.

Comms & Works Minister Paul Lewis

It was held that “Achieving this requires a complex, inter-dependent package of potential projects which include the LB/CB development, investment in geothermal energy, reinstallation of a fibre optic cable link, improved sea access, and improvements in the island’s access infrastructure (primarily a new breakwater and port at Carr’s Bay). All of these are to be supported by a substantial reform programme to improve the enabling environment for sustainable socio-economic development of the island through private sector growth, governance and institutional capacity.”

So, it was part of the strengthening of the Montserrat Development Corporation to attract private sector investment, 2013/14 – 2015/16.

Eventually in the Intervention Summary it came to provide financial assistance to the Government of Montserrat for priority infrastructure requirements.

Private Sector Adviser and in-country representative, Kato Kimbugwe

Dr. Kato Kimbugwe when he left Montserrat was proud that he had left the project well on its way to final approval, and so it was announced on July 22, 2016 by his replacement, Dawson of already two years. “Yes, I’m very pleased to announce that the fiber optic project was formally approved I think two weeks ago today and the prequalification stage of the procurement has started in fact that started today…prequalification questionnaire which is due back in to DFID, I think on the 22nd of August; and on another base of that they’ll go to the next stage of issuing tender documents so very positive on that one and I’m pleased to announce that…” Dawson had said.

Two months later on Sept. 23, at the Governor’s press conference he reported: “…So we’re now moving to the next stage which is the invitation to tender process. So, we’re going to be I think a pretty big meeting with some of those potential tenders just make sure they’re actually clear what we’re asking them to provide and then we’ll launch the I.T.T. as it’s called. I would hope it will happen within the next two months if not earlier because a number of the procurement activities are going on (such as ferry procurement)… we need to be focusing on the moment.”

But that ferry procurement turned out to be a saga and a fiasco resulted that required direct intervention with the UK heads. It resulted in a consultant/TC to be unceremoniously dismissed from Montserrat. It had been rumoured that the local DF ID representative’s head was also on the block, but he later at the September 2016 press conference, laugh at the suggestion of him being fired. (Today it is suspected he may have colluded later to stall the fibre optic reinstallation process). He is due to leave the post as announced earlier, having completed an extened two to three-year term.

Martin Dawson

We should note that in December when the process supposedly had been progressing safely, the UK Sun and the Daily Mail published a very dubious article which we published fully. See: £5million on Fibre Optic Cable offends UK media at www.themontserratreporter.com – Posted on 06 January 2017, at www.themontserratreporter.com.

The claim – super-fast broadband for a tiny Caribbean island despite terrible connection speeds in the UK – DFID is blowing the fortune to construct an underwater fibre optic cable to the volcanic island of Montserrat, which has a population of just 4,900 by the (UK) Sun written by By Harry Cole, Wesminister correspondent.

It is claimed amazingly by our own government that this and other articles was responsible for the delay in the fibre-optic project onward delivery.

 We were later able to confirm that as noted in a DFID report on financing to Montserrat in 2016 some £100,000 had indeed been set aside for that step. The tender has been awarded according to some documentation available.

The article did leave much to be desired. It was supported by what we refer to as ignorant complaints coming from: a Barmaid, a Builder, a Pub landlord, a Cafe boss, a Shop owner, a Factory worker, a Waitress!

There was a simple response by the UK govt. but one equally ill-informed Tory referred to the funding as ‘overseas aid’. Former DFID minister Grant Shapps hit out: “It will be far easier to maintain support for overseas aid if we can get our own infrastructure needs in order,” he said seemingly to the writer.

It is not certain whether this is the same Tory who the Sun says – The Tory MP who heads up the BIG infrastructure campaign added: “Super speed broadband isn’t just some nice to have extra, it’s vital to British success outside of the EU and we need to get every British home and business connected and world beating speeds.”

While a DFID spokesman said: “Following the devastating eruption in the UK overseas territory, we’ve met our legal obligations to Montserrat by investing in the vital infrastructure needed for the island to stand on its own two feet again.”

It seems that our information that this article was encouraged out of some sort of ‘hit back’ on Montserrat. But should it have really been so effective to stop or slow the project, as we hope that is all it is. That MP’s quote was not lost in another article of January 5, 2017 by Mark Jackson (ISP Review). See: http://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2017/01/uk-gov-commits-4-94m-help-deploy-fibre-broadband-montserrat.html

See ISP Review video on Montserrat’s volcanic destruction of Plymouth: