A depiction of the land side section of the planned cruise pier development planned for Road Town.
Communications and Works Minister Hon. Mark Vanterpool has confirmed that the BVI Ports Authority (BVIPA) approved some $1.7M to go towards the Cruise pier development project.
His disclosure was in response to questions posed by opposition member, Hon. Julian Fraser, Third District Representative at today´s sitting of the House of Assembly.
Minister Vanterpool said on April 12, 2013 Cabinet approved the Heads of Terms Agreement with Tortola Port Partner´s Limited (TPP) for the development of the cruise pier development project, subject to approval from Her Majesty´s Government.
"The BVI Ports Authority authorised the TPP group to undertake certain pre-development services in advance of the Project Development Agreement´s signage to allow the preliminary works to the tune of $1.7 million dollars necessary for the project development in an effort to preserve the development timetable," he told the House.
Further, he said the works included final pier design, vertical plan design and concept coordination, architectural plans, mechanical, electrical, plumbing and structural engineering, long lead time custom fabricated items, civil engineering designs of all site infrastructure, grading and underground utilities and electrical designs.
"The summary of the agreement is that these works will be executed and paid for by the TPP group, with the understanding that if the final project development agreement was not made between the parties, the preliminary works will become the property of the BVI Ports Authority. In that case the BVI Ports Authority would be expected to pay for the works. No money has been paid by the BVI Ports Authority to the TPP group," he explained.
Mr. Fraser then asked the Minister if this means that the construction drawings submitted by the CH M2 Hill Ports and Harbours report of 2005 has been abandoned. Minister Vanterpool said it is being used as a guide but cannot be used as the final construction and development work.
Meanwhile, the Third District Representative further asked the Minister to provide a copy of the contract between the Ports Authority and TPP in relation to the $1.7M.
However, the Works Minister said it is a legal, private and confidential document between the BVI Ports Authority and TPP group; and at this stage, he cannot submit a copy to the House.
However, the Minister stated that he will seek permission from both parties to disclose this document as soon as possible.
He further stated, "Once both parties agree for us to disclose it, I would be most comfortable in disclosing it. There is nothing to hide, but it´s a legal document that I must get permission to disclose publicly."
Article Published On June 6, 2013-Ports Board Approves $1.7M For Cruise Pier Project
Despite awaiting approval from the United Kingdom (UK)to undertake the cruise pier project, the BVI Ports Authority (BVIPA) Board recently approved approximately $1.7 million for design and engineering work to be undertaken by the Tortola Port Partners (TPP) group.
Senior government officials were not prepared to comment on this latest development.
Government has repeatedly pointed out that all financial injections will be made by the investors and that the Territory will not finance the project. A source pointed out that since the TPP group won the bid they should be the ones investing their monies to undertake the engineering and design work and not the BVIPA.
Additionally, the source also stated that from all indications, TPP has not signed a contract with Government although both sides have agreed that certain conditions must be met before the contract can be signed.
BVI Platinum News understands that two key conditions that must be met is TPP's finalizing berthing agreements with Disney Cruise Line and Norwegian Cruise Line; and the Government securing project approval from the UK.
"On what grounds did the Ports Authority approved this because if you don't have the UK approval as yet and you have not signed a final contract then what happens to the $1.7 million that is being invested if there is no UK approval? That to me is too much of a risk to undertake at this time," the source pointed out.
Earlier this year Government indicated its confidence that the UK will approval the project in time for works to commence by August.
The project involves extending the cruise pier and the development of some 4 acres of land on Wickham's Cay II.
While the UK Government considers approving the project, they have also received numerous complaints from Royal Caribbean Cruise Ltd. (RCCL).
RCCL along with Tortola Pier Park were the final two bidders shortlisted for the project which include the extension of the cruise pier and development of some 4 acres of adjacent property.
In the letter obtained by BVI Platinum News, RCCL's Vice President of Commercial Development, Mr. John Tercek outlined that they entered the process because of the intervention of the UK Government in August and thus their anticipation that the bid process would not be the usual "getting business done in the Caribbean", but instead a fair and transparent process.
"Since the process appears to have been undertaken by the Government merely to satisfy the UK's administrative oversight concerns and the terms of the Protocols for Effective Financial Management, while nevertheless moving forward as planned with the original privately negotiated transaction, we feel that we have completely wasted our time and capital. Thus we request your support to help us gain a recovery of our out of pocket expenses for this pointless undertaking," RCCL wrote to the Governor.
According to RCCL, they were skeptical about the legitimacy and impartiality of the process from the beginning and more so, when "Mr. Claude Cline showed up as the active chairman of the negotiating committee".
"This was quite a surprise to us as Mr. Cline has been the lead negotiator and perhaps even a paid consultant during the earlier negotiations with the Tortola Ports Group that had been chosen through earlier secret negotiations and now again through the so-called "competitive bid" and had appeared publicly with this group to tout them as the group selected by Government to carry out this important project," RCCL pointed out.
According to RCCL, this speaks volumes to the lack of fairness of the process to the RCCL group and the distinct disadvantage faced when competing with the other group for the award of the project.
Last month, the Governor's Office spokeswoman, Maria Meys indicated that the Governor does not wish to comment at this stage. Meys indicated that if the Governor's position changes, BVI Platinum News will be notified.
The National Democratic Party administration has maintained that no Government Minister was involved in the process that led to the award of the contract.