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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Of Cruise Ports And Marinas

Last month during the Estimates Debate the new Prime Minister announced that it was the intention of the new government to build a new cruise port in the north of the island mainly because of the security concerns of having half a dozen large cruise liners in the Bridgetown Port at the same time. That debate was joined this week with the island’s largest construction magnate, Sir Charles Williams, suggesting that the new port should be located on the site of the cement plant at Checker Hall in St. Lucy. He seems also to be suggesting that the Trinidad-owned cement plant be permanently closed or moved to the Bridgetown Port site near the flour mill.

Keep in mind that he is making this latter statement only days after the announcement of a hike in the price of cement by as much as BDS$1 per bag, and that Sir Charles owns a huge estate in St. Lucia where construction materials are being mined, which he is already using to resurface roads in St. Lucia and Barbados. He also claims that cement can be imported more cheaply from within the region, by as much as 40% less, than when it is produced in Barbados.

However, getting back to the new state of the art cruise port itself, the polo-playing septuagenarian thinks it will revitalize Speightstown and give tourism on the island a shot in the arm. Sir Charles also claims that even excluding his own Port St. Charles (no pun intended) there is room for three more marinas in the northwest of the inland including the second one he wants to build in St. Peter at Retreat for which he is still awaiting planning permission after several years.

During the recent general elections the whole issue of another marina in St. Peter at Retreat/Six Mens became something of a political football since it included the hot-potato issue of relocating people. The position of the previous government was that some people had to be moved from Six Mens not to make way for Sir Charles’ new marina but for a fishing facility and a lagoon for sheltering boats during hurricane season; and that since a new marina was on the cards next door at Retreat, then environmental and other impact studies were combined.

Of course, the previous government was also accusing the then opposition of moving a planned jetty for Six Mens to St. John for party political purposes the last time they were in power in Barbados. Keep in mind also that during the last regime a jetty was built and the fish market rebuilt in Speightstown at a time when there is very little or no fishing being done in Speightstown. Consequently, there was some talk of the jetty being able to berth cruise liners. So, it will be very interesting in the coming months and years to watch what gets done (if anything) as the major players both in government and the private sector go through the required motions of the song and dance that it takes to get things done in Barbados.

Meanwhile, this just in.
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