Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy is giving the assurance that construction of the much touted $300 million Sugar Point cruise facility is still being “carefully considered” as Government continues to examine the best way to separate cargo vessels from pleasure boats.
At the same time Minister of Housing and Lands Denis Kellman is putting in a plug for St Lucy to be considered for any future sea or airport development.
Leading off debate in Parliament this morning on a resolution for a $50 million Supplementary Estimates for 2016-2017, Sealy hinted at the possibility of the construction of two additional berths at the Bridgetown port, following the completion of the $64 million fifth berth which officially opened last April.
The Minister of Tourism said the new berths would be part of the development of a more modern facility that would include separate working and pleasure piers.
“We all know that we want to move towards having a separate cruising facility and a separate cargo facility – dare I say cruise facilities, because there is the talk about berthing beyond Bridgetown Port for sometime.
“The most significant one of course, of recent vintage, would have been the Sugar Point at Trevors Way. That is of course a very extensive arrangement that not only provides for berths for two finger piers – three ultimately, but an extensive area for development,” Sealy said.
He said plans for the ultra-modern facility, which was unveiled in 2012, had not been shelved, but had been delayed because Government was carefully examining its financing options.
“That project is obviously being looked at carefully in terms of the financial modelling and the financing options. It is one that has to be engaged in carefully, and it continues to receive the attention between the proponent of the project and of course the Ministries of Finance and Economic Affairs and Tourism and International Transport,” he explained.
The minister added that Government was “actively” considering interest in berthing “possibly in Speightstown”, a point that did not escape Kellman, the Member of Parliament for St Lucy.
In fact, in supporting the separation of cargo and pleasure vessels, the long-serving parliamentarian touted his constituency as the ideal place for cruise development.
“As it stands right now we are at a stage where it is better for us to look for a better location and see how much added investment we can attract,” Kellman said.
“It is alright for everybody to say, ‘the Bridgetown Port, the Bridgetown Port’. Yes, the Bridgetown Port, but you have to ask yourself when you continue to do these things what other investments you are attracting.
“If we do not have space what we are doing is we are forcing other ships to go elsewhere. So we have to be proactive . . . the truth whether people like it or not, any major projects coming to Barbados now, St Lucy has the location for it . . . . Whether it is an airport or sea port, we have the space, we have the capacity and the ability,” the ruling Democratic Labour Party parliamentarian stressed.
Last December, Chief Executive Officer of Barbados Port Inc David Jean-Marie had told Barbados TODAY the proposed multi-million-dollar Sugar Point cruise ship terminal had been put on hold while the authorities were “just trying to work out the numbers”.
Construction on the first phase of the project was expected to start in 2015 and completed in time for the 2016-2017 cruise season.
Key elements of the project include three 350 metre-long pile-supported piers providing berths for six large ships, cruise terminal building and associated infrastructure, multi-use land-side development and the separation of cruise and cargo operations, according to the port.