Construction of the nearly EC$150 million second cruise ship pier at Port Zante is complete but there is no word when it will be used by the dwindling number of cruise ships and cruise passengers for the 2019/2020 cruise season.
According to a source, a piece of the large bedrock found at the construction site in August 2018, is said to be sticking out of the sand although special equipment was brought in to crack up the rock in July this year.
“The service provider did not get to crack up (all) the rock and no cruise ship will dock before the hard rock is cracked up,” the source said over the weekend.
“This could become another legal issue between SCASPA and the contractors,” another source disclosed.
It was reported last year that a large solid bed of rock was discovered during construction and the first plan was to remove it by using dynamite, but that plan was scuttled following concerns that blasting would have serious negative impact on the underwater environment as well as severe damage to the existing bulkhead.
In July 2019, it was reported that a ship with special equipment was under contract to break up the large solid rock on the seabed as well as other high spots, which left intact, would have caused severe damage to the bottom of cruise ships when berthing.
Slapped with an additional US$7 million (EC$18.9 million) bill, the matter between the contractors, Canadian Commercial Corporation and the St Christopher Air and Sea Ports Authority (SCASPA) went to arbitration in Jamaica but the parties have reportedly failed to reach a settlement.
Earlier this month, Minister of Tourism Hon Lindsay Grant said the construction of the pier was completed and Minister Liburd of Infrastructure, Hon Ian Patches Liburd said a formal opening ceremony could be held in November. It is said he is still awaiting an assessment of the depth of the water around the new pier.
Scheduled to cost EC$86.4 million under the then governing St Kitts-Nevis Labour Party administration, the cost of the second cruise ship pier ballooned to a staggering EC$129.6 million price tag – EC$43.2 million more under the Timothy Harris-led Team Unity Government. The additional US$7 million (EC$18.9 million) would take the price tag to EC$148.5 million and counting.
To finance the project, the St Christopher Air and Sea Ports Authority (SCASPA) secured a EC$91.8 million loan from the St Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla National Bank; EC$18.9 million from the St. Christopher and Nevis Social Security Board; EC$13.5 million from the St. Kitts and Nevis Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation (SIDF) and EC$5.4 million from the St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla Trading and Development Company (TDC).