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UK minister responsible for Overseas Territories, Lord Tariq Ahmad has used his first public appearance in the territory to speak of unity between the UK and the British Virgin Islands.

Giving an address at the official handover ceremony of the Magistrate’s Court modular building in John’s Hole on Tuesday, July 31, Lord Ahmad told residents the UK is proud to be associated with the territory.

“You will never be alone, you are part of our family [and] we are proud of that fact and it is an immense pleasure and a humble honour to be with you today,” he said.

“And let me assure you that we in the UK, the government of the UK, our prime minister and our whole ministerial team together with our excellent governor stands with you to ensure that you build back better.”

Lord Ahmad said he also shares the sentiment of the BVI’s territorial song that the territory is ‘blessed’, and he, in addition, praised the ‘incredible spirit’ of the people despite the challenges faced as a result of the 2017 hurricanes.

The UK parliamentarian said although the hurricanes brought adversity, it brought him closer to British Overseas Territories such as the BVI.

His statement comes at a time when the BVI is at loggerheads with the UK in relation to the public registers of company beneficial ownership controversy.

Following his address, he handed the keys to the new court building to Governor Augustus Jaspert and Premier Dr D Orlando Smith.

Hurricane resistant building

According to Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Deputy Governor, Carolyn Stoutt-Igwe, the 1,365 square-foot building contains raw materials that are fire retardant and impervious to mould and mildew.

It is also eco-friendly and highly energy-efficient, she said.

“Of utmost importance, the building design adheres to Miami Dade’s building codes and is structurally engineered for 200 plus miles per hour winds with hurricane resistant windows and doors,” she said.

The USA-manufactured building features ramps and restrooms facilities, a general waiting area, the magistrate’s courtroom, a prisoner holding area, and an office for magistrates.

The UK’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office contracted Caribbean Basin Enterprises and NG Solutions to undertake work on the building.

By Esther Durand, BVI News Staff –