Major developments are in the pipeline for cruise and cargo operations in Barbados as Government seeks to maximize the potential of the Bridgetown Port.
Newly-appointed Chair of the Board of Directors of the Barbados Port Inc. Senator Lisa Cummins has given a strong indication that the much-touted development of the Speightstown jetty into a secondary port for cruise ships could become a reality as part of a new “master plan”.
What is more, the Government senator has also suggested that the once talked about multi-million dollar Sugar Point Cruise Pier facility could be put back on the table.
Addressing a cruise commission town hall meeting at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre on Tuesday night, Senator Cummins told the audience that discussions have started this week on the new plan for the port, implementation of which could start next year.
“We had a discussion just [Monday] because we are in the process of starting to develop a new 10-year Port master plan (to start in 2019),” she announced.
Cummins pointed out that besides its Bridgetown location, the Port had “assets” of crown lands including the various lighthouse locations that could also become part of the plan.
“So we are talking about entities like East Point, South Point and North Point to some extent. We were having discussions just [Monday] around what is the Port’s core business. We have typically, in the public space, cargo and cruise on the one hand, but we also have been talking about a third element of the Port’s business, which is property development and property development around those lighthouses at the peripheral areas on the island,” she explained.
“So there have been a lot of discussions so far. Very preliminary I have to admit, but discussions around things like having a secondary port in Speightstown for instance. There have been discussions around things like floating piers for smaller ships and for yachts – what will the yacht terminal look like, the large yachts that are almost as big as a small cruise ship, where could those go, if not necessarily in the Bridgetown port but perhaps in the Speightstown area,” she added.
In its 2018 Manifesto, the Barbados Labour Party spoke of its intention to make Bridgetown a smart city, Speightstown a heritage and arts cultural hub, the St Lawrence Gap an entertainment centre, Oistins the centre for fishing, Six Roads, St Philip an industrial corridor and Holetown, St James a tourism and entertainment centre.
Cummins said those plans remained very much a part of the long-term plan of Government.
“We are actively going to be engaging them as we move forward with the port master plan, starting in 2019. The plan is a long range view over the next 10 years. It does include spaces outside of the Bridgetown area,” she said.
The government senator also suggested that the once ambitious $500 million Sugar Point Cruise Pier project that was touted under the former Democratic Labour Party administration could get going under the new plan.
The shelving of that public/private sector project was made in early 2016, after the then DLP government decided that the economy was too fragile to carry out such a development.
Cummins insisted that any talks about that plan were very embryonic, while stressing that any decisions to be made in that regard would include all stakeholders and the wider population.
“As it relates to Sugar Point, I don’t want to get too detailed into something that at this point we are not in a position to talk about in any great detail. What I can say is that whatever decisions are made they are going to be made collaboratively, they are going to be made in a transparent way and they are going to be made in partnership with all the stakeholders who have an invested interest,” she said.
“They are going to be made with the view to ensuring Bridgetown, whether traditional Bridgetown or old Bridgetown is part of the process, . . . that there is differentiation in product offering . . . and that there is collaboration in terms of the port development alongside the development in Bridgetown itself in terms of a city and what that means. So I want to assure you that there will be no decisions taken without the input of the stakeholders and it will be done in partnership,” she stressed.
Initial plans for that project, which would involve the creation of about 20 acres of reclaimed land off Trevor’s Way, were to construct three cruise piers, over 200,000 square feet of entertainment, food and retail space, with the possibility of a hotel development to complement the facility.
Tuesday night’s town hall meeting was designed by officials of the new cruise commission to garner views from stakeholders and various segments of society on how best to develop the cruise industry and form closer linkages with more small businesses and attractions on the island.