April 24, 2003
(Works, Services and Transportation)


Contract awarded for satellite phones

Works, Services and Transportation Minister Jim Walsh and Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs Minister Wally Andersen announced today government has awarded a contract for the provision of satellite phones to be used in a pilot project on the Trans Labrador Highway.

The contract was awarded to DownEast Tas Communications of Corner Brook. Government will purchase 60 phones at a cost of $875 per unit, plus an ongoing monthly charge of $49.95. Delivery time for the phones is expected to be about three weeks.

The use of these phones for the pilot project will extend from Labrador West to Happy Valley-Goose Bay. The pilot will last for six months, during which time the phones will be available for pick-up at select locations in Labrador City, Wabush, Churchill Falls and Happy Valley-Goose Bay. The department is working with the Labrador City-Wabush Rotary Club on the logistics of administering the project.

"It was the Rotary Club in the area who came up with the idea of making the phones available at various locations and I would like to commend them for their creativity and commitment to this project," said Minister Walsh. "Over the past several months my department has worked closely with the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary and the Rotary Club to address communications issues along the Trans Labrador Highway. We certainly hope that, at the end of this pilot project, we can say we have found a solution."

Minister Andersen commended the Rotary Club for taking the initiative in seeing this pilot project come to fruition. "We have all heard stories of people being stranded on the Trans Labrador Highway, with no way of communicating with the outside world," he said. "These phones will give the traveling public some sense of security in knowing that help is just a call away if they find themselves stranded or in need of any emergency assistance. This is a great initiative, and all parties involved, particularly the Rotarians, should be congratulated on the work they’ve done to make it possible."

"It is great that the people traveling on the highway will soon be able to utilize this service being provided by government," said Jim Farrell, spokesperson for the Labrador City-Wabush Rotary Club. "We are very pleased to be able to play a role in helping this project happen."

Minister Walsh said that when the pilot project is completed the department will determine if this arrangement is appropriate to address communications issues along the highway and will consider the applicability of the program to other regions, particularly for winter travel in Labrador.

Media contact:
          Lynn Evans, Works Services and Transportation, (709) 729-3015
          Bert Pomeroy, Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs, (709) 896-8668

2003 04 24                                        3:45 p.m.

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