Remarks to commemorate the 26th anniversary of Soufriere Hills volcanic eruptions by Premier, Hon. Joseph E. Farrell
Montserratians at home and overseas, and friends of Montserrat, I extend warm greetings to you.
Today, July 18 is a day we cannot forget; twenty-six years ago, the Soufrière Hills Volcano rumbled to life and changed our lives forever.
The years of volcanic activity that followed, the loss of lives and livelihoods, the devastation, the migration of our people and the general feeling of hopelessness that many of us experienced have shaped us into a resilient people—determined to see our people and our beloved Montserrat develop and advance economically and socially.
We give God thanks for his mercies, his guidance and for giving us the will to hold on and to rebuild.
And indeed, we are making every effort to rebuild and chart Montserrat’s sustainable development. The evidence of this progress is all around us, and I will quickly highlight some recent milestones.
In October 2020, 25 years after the volcanic eruption resulted in Montserrat being disconnected from the subsea fibre connection link, we were able to reestablish this connection, thereby strengthening our communication systems and increasing our resilience to natural hazards. It is hoped that we will see high speed fibre connections to homes and premises very shortly on the back of this investment.
This year, we have started work on a New Air Traffic Control Tower which is on track to be completed by the end of the second quarter of the financial year, and we have already seen the completion of the Runway Resurfacing project at the John A. Osborne Airport.
Montserrat will also soon have an operational 750KW solar farm in Look Out as we advance efforts to reduce Montserrat’s carbon footprint and utilise green renewable energy sources as envisioned in Montserrat’s National Energy Policy.
As it relates to access, we know that our volcanic crisis resulted in access issues for Montserrat, as pyroclastic flows destroyed the W. H. Bramble Airport in the East and crippled Port operations in Plymouth. But, significant improvements to our access infrastructure will soon be realized as Government intends to award a design and build contract for the Montserrat Port Development Project later this year. Following the award, the Contractor is expected to complete the project in 18 months. This will no doubt improve our access to Montserrat and drive economic activity in the Tourism and trade sectors.
Following many months of design work and consultation, the chosen design for the New Hospital for Montserrat will soon be announced. The official announcement details are being finalised and the public will be updated in the coming days.
I am also keen to progress new investments and partnerships on the back of these critical infrastructure, so that we may maximise the benefits from our projects, and lay a path for greater sustainability for our island.
We are also working to improve Government’s accommodation infrastructure, continuing the expansion of renewable energy, improving or road network and increasing our housing stock.
I am sure you will agree that despite the setbacks we have experienced as a result of the volcanic eruptions, we have much to be thankful for, and yet more work still to be done; standing together as one, we will make it.
I want to also use this opportunity to announce that Wednesday July 21, 2021 has been declared a National Day of Prayer and Thanksgiving to allow for reflection and thanksgiving, as we observe the 26th Anniversary of the eruption of the Soufrière Hills Volcano.
It is also a good opportunity to share our past memories, stories and pictures of this aspect of Montserrat’s history with the younger ones around us, and the new generation of Montserratians; so that, they too can understand and appreciate our history, our resilience and determination and our will to see Montserrat thrive.
God’s blessings to all.
Joseph E. Farrell, Premier July 18, 2021