The bustling Bridgetown Port is expected to complete a $100 million upgrade and capacity boost by October this year.
The news was delivered this afternoon by Chief Executive Officer of Barbados Port Inc., (BPI) David Jean Marie while making a presentation on business facilitation at the March business luncheon of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Jean Marie told the audience that comprised business leaders and Minister Donville Inniss that the capital investment includes a new $50 million berthing facility dedicated to handling all cargo, thus separating the cargo handling area from cruise passengers.
He said the investment also covered a US$24 million state-of-the-art equipment package, including such items as a new Panamax crane, 15 forklifts, electric straddle carriers and additional cargo-handling equipment.
“I mentioned the removal of sheds three and four. Currently, shed three is used as our home-porting shed in the meantime until we have Sugar Point [project] completed. We are currently building berth 5. That’s happening as we speak and the creation of a more secure ISPS (International Ship and Port Facility Security) zone within the port. We are pushing that berth 5 to be completed by October,” the BPI CEO added.
Jean Marie said the upgrade would allow the island’s main sea port-of-entry to accommodate mega ships within the harbour.
“We expect to have visiting Barbados for the first time two new cruise vessels – the Britannia and the Mein Schiff 3. They cannot be accommodated in the current port as configured. We have to have berth 5 completed in order to be able to facilitate those vessels,” he disclosed.
Jean Marie explained that the existing Gantry crane which has been in operation since 1985/86, would be kept. He noted the new crane reached 115 feet in the air and had plenty features.
The port chief told the business leaders that a team was currently visiting Dublin, Ireland examining the new crane’s specifications and ensuring that it is what the country requires.
“Once we have that crane here as well as the additional electric straddle carriers and the other cargo-handling equipment and we build berth 5, we should be able to accommodate a Panamax size vessel which would allow us to enter into the fray in a serious way, into home-porting if the business develops,” Jean Marie stated.
He said the BPI would also be seeking to ensure it has new scanners for containers and the pallets to make sure the port and border are secure.
Jean Marie informed the business meeting that the port was aiming for an annual growth rate of about five per cent, adding that all the permits for phase one of the Sugar Point redevelopment of the port, which includes a cruise terminal, had been completed.
“We are just assessing various alternatives, financing arrangements before we can proceed with the project. It’s all designed. We are looking to develop all by the fish market [Bridgetown Public Market]…incorporate the vendors, incorporate the tenants of the Pelican and so on, who are not really involved as we would like today, in terms of benefiting.”