A new port for Montserrat brings with it possibilities and connections, Dr. Samuel Joseph said at the Groundbreaking Ceremony for the new Port Development Project on Tuesday morning.
In his keynote address, Dr. Joseph, who is the Minister of Communications, Works, Labour, and Energy under which the 90-million EC dollar project falls, said the port is a continuation of the Montserrat Project which began with nation-builders and national heroes W H Bramble and Robert W Griffith. He challenged those in attendance and those streaming the event that the people of Montserrat are responsible for what happens after construction has ended.
While the port will allow for more cruise ships and other vessels, Montserratians must be ready to exploit the possibilities and opportunities created with increased marine activity, the minister continued. He added that private businesses should be positioned to export goods so that containers do not come full and leave empty.
Minister Joseph went on to challenge Montserrat’s global partners that connections matter. He said while some consider Montserrat a small village and inconsequential on a global scale, it is directly impacted by the decisions made in other parts of the world. He added that international agencies and governments have a responsibility to ensure that they support small island states like Montserrat which are adversely affected by climate change and other impacts caused by larger development nations.
The port development project is expected to take 18 months. Richard Starkey of BVI-based Meridian Construction Company Ltd., which specialises in marine works, said his company was honoured to have been selected for this critical infrastructural project. He added that it was a huge opportunity to showcase the company’s skills in marine construction. He said they expect some challenges while undertaking construction during the winter months when there are heavy seas and swells and while working next to environmentally sensitive areas near the bat caves.
Over the next three to four months the design phase of the project will occur, Starkey said. During this time, experts will finalise the type of materials and the methodology for constructing the 130m pier. Following this, the crane operators, riggers, and other specialists will arrive. Local carpenters, masons, and other workers will complete the construction team.
Premier Joseph Farrell said the new port will see the creation of a new centre of commerce for the island and will be a boost to the economy with both direct and indirect benefits after construction has ended.
Governor Sarah Tucker said she was pleased that the UK Government had been able to show its support for its people with the initial £14.4 million allocation through the UKCIF and then making up the shortfall to the tune of £13.9 million. A new port, which is accessible to all and designed to be inclusive will boost Montserrat’s ability to connect to the region and the rest of the world, she added.
Isaac Solomon, Vice President of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) said that the project represents one of the largest infrastructural projects Montserrat in recent times. With it will come new employment opportunities and the ability to increase the movement of people, goods, and services with improved efficiency.
The CDB official noted that the project was designed to meet key strategic objectives of the bank including social, economic, and environmental resilience. It also aligned with the UK Government’s UKCIF’s objectives economic transformation, climate resilience, and positive social impact including gender equality and accessibility.
In his vote of thanks, Colin Fergus, Permanent Secretary for MCWLE acknowledged the contributions and work on the port project by former Minister, now Leader of the Opposition Paul Lewis and former PS of the ministry Beverley Mendes.