“The roads need to be fixed as soon as possible. It should have been done a long time ago.” That was how Samuel Sanes, St. Croix Administrator, set the tone at the beginning of a recent meeting at Government House with those who live and own businesses in the town of Christiansted, to discuss the abysmal state of the roads.
The current conditions are “a terrible hazard not just for cars, but also for pedestrians,” Mr. Sanes admitted, turning to Ronald Phillips, Waste Management Authority engineer, for context.
Mr. Phillips explained that WMA was replacing the town’s approximately 60-year-old sewer lines with up to 32,000 linear feet of new pipe, under all the streets in Christiansted – except for Company Street, where the lines had been replaced in 2016. The 2-year project, which was begun in July 2022, has long been mired in controversy due to the manner in which it is being carried out.
At the meeting, contractor Sean Baptiste of Marco St. Croix blamed issues on the failure of the Waste Management Authority to keep up with its accounts payables. He described how, while still being owed millions for garbage haulage, he began the pipeline projects and worked for months without receiving the fees normally due when a contract is initialized.
WMA Chief Financial Officer Daryl Griffith argued that all invoices for Mr. Baptiste’s company were currently up to date, a fact that Mr. Baptiste is reportedly disputing. On the latest “Comes With The Territory” episode, aired on Sundays on WTJX, Mr. Sanes said that after a series of meetings with both Mr. Baptiste and WMA officials, it was agreed that a thorough review of all paperwork for the current project would be undertaken. As for the millions Mr. Baptiste says he is owed for previous work, “he has every right to bring it up. But it should not interfere with the current project,” Mr. Sanes said.