St Kitts and Nevis (WINN): The mobilization phase to start construction work on the second cruise pier at Port Zante is expected to begin in March, according to Minister of Public Infrastructure, Post, Urban Development and Transport, Hon. Ian Patches Liburd.
His announcement comes on the heels of the unanimous passage of the St. Christopher Air and Seaports Authority (SCASPA) Amendment bill, in Parliament, on February 13.
“Mobilization starts early in March worst case, we start with mobilization first, you have to get in the barges, the dredge companies are already retained and the piles are already on order but the mobilization of getting the contractor on site will start right away.”
The Public Infrastructure Minister disclosed that the amendments were necessary for the project to move forward.
“Amendment was one of the conditions precedent to any disbursement of funds in the loan agreement so we had to effect these amendments although simple but very critical amendments. All these amendments are only applicable to the case of borrowing and it’s really to meet the conditions precedent and to give the lenders to do business with SCASPA.”
Liburd also revealed that the contractors have already been identified.
“We already identified the contractor there has already been negotiations with sub-contractors so we had time because as in separate agreements the time in accordance with the construction agreement stipulates 120 days so we have until March to sign that but in the interim the contractors which have already been identified by the Canadian Commercial Corporation, SCASPA has a contract with the Canadian Commercial Corporation, a construction contract, so within that construction contract CCC are the ones who identified the contractor because based on the MOU we had first, it was find Canadian solutions so they have found a Canadian contractor. So all SCASPA has to do is to ensure that there is an engineering oversight of the project and they have retained a consultant already for that. In terms of selecting the contractor that is not SCASPA that is the Canadian Commercial Corporation.”
Minister Liburd quashed allegations made by the opposition that the amendments would compromise the security of SCASPA’s assets. He noted that the entire cruise pier project is being done under the umbrella of good governance and transparency.
“The issue about selling the port, we’ve heard all sorts of propositions from the opposite side that really borders on absurdity because if for example this Team Unity administration wanted to sell the Port we probably would have gone the route that they took because in the former administration what they did was to try to enter into a public/private relationship which in fact seeded the port to J Cashman Inc and the Port Development agency, whatever it was, for 30 years, 30 long years SCASPA would not have own the port but SCASPA would have been required to insure the port and provide indemnity on the Port Authority. So …I’m happy that what we have done in terms of the SCASPA amendment legislation is to ensure that it falls within the framework of transparency and good governance and we can attest to that at any time.”
The opposition Labour Party has maintained that there is something fundamentally wrong with the amendments to the SCASPA Bill and has indicated that because of their questioning of it, efforts were made to lock them out of Parliament.
The projected cost of the cruise pier is US$48 million. The St. Kitts Nevis Anguilla National Bank, Social Security, the SIDF, and TDC are the financial backers.