Deputy Premier and Minister of Communications & Works Dr Samuel Joseph last week provided an update on the status of Government projects in his portfolio. Via a live Facebook stream, Dr Joseph revealed that the planned port project at Little Bay will have to be rescaled.
Back in 2018, the government signed the agreement to receive £14.4 million from the United Kingdom Caribbean Infrastructure Partnership Fund (UKCIF). The Fund is being administered by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), with the Government of Montserrat providing £7 million in counterpart resources from it’s EDF 11 allocation from the European Union.
Since then, the government hosted meetings with firms interested in bidding for the environmental and social impact assessments and technical consulting aspects of the project. In May of this year, the government and the CDB held an official launch of the project, stating that construction works would begin at the end of 2019 and be completed by 2022.
Now, the new minister says the allocated funds are not enough to complete the port as currently designed. Dr Joseph said technicians within his ministry have been working on scaling down the design, which was to include a breakwater and longer jetty to one which can be managed with the available funds.
However, the minister said the question for the government and the people of Montserrat is, “How small can you go and still say the project is acceptable?” Joseph said whatever new designs are developed will be put out to the public for their feedback.
“When the final designs are released I think the public should have input on how small we are willing to accept our port so as to proceed. It is a decision that this administration and the general public should have a part in…”
The minister said he will keep the public informed about the new designs, cost and functions. The new port is intended to resolve the issue of inaccessibility of vessels during rough seas which makes it a challenge for docking at the current jetty. It is also hoped a longer quay will increase the size of the cruise vessels which can stop at Montserrat, thereby increasing visitor numbers.
Watch from The Minister’s Chair with Dr Samuel Joseph