Road Town Cruise Pier
Photo Credit: Clifton Skelton/BVI Platinum News
The Government of the Virgin Islands has extended the deadline for the submission of proposals to develop the cruise pier and surrounding areas from August 16 to August 28, 2012.
Currently, the invitation to tender is advertised in the local media, both print and online; on the websites of the BVI Tourist Board, BVI London Office and Caribbean Community (CARICOM); and in the Wall Street Journal's global print publications in the United States, Asia and Europe.
Additionally, persons can contact the Financial Secretary, Mr. Neil Smith at 1-284-468-3701 ext. 2144 or e-mail NMSmith@gov.vg.
Government is calling for a wide range of requirements in its invitation for proposals to expand the cruise ship dock and develop the surrounding land.
On August 1, Government indicated an end to the former process involving Tortola Port Partners (TPP), who had presented their plans to develop the cruise pier, and announced plans to re-tender through an open bid process.
According to the tender documents published on July 31 by the Ministry of Finance, a crucial element is the involvement and partnership of a cruiseline partner(s) which subscribes to a philosophy that is aligned with the Virgin Islands brand and target market and also is committed to having a medium to long term relationship with the Virgin Islands as a destination or home port of choice in their itineraries.
"The use of local partner(s) is strongly encouraged and it is also expected that the project will be used to train, transfer technology to the local population and maximize the use of local resources," the document points out.
Government intends to review all of the applications and announce five working days after their submission on its decision regarding the companies that were short-listed.
Some 21 days after being short-listed, the companies are expected to submit a design concept for the pier and the land based portion of the cruise terminal.
The concepts submitted are subject to changes based on final negotiations between the Government and the party submitting the bid. These negotiations, according to the document, will be aimed at optimizing the final design to serve both in the best interest of the industry and the Government.
The Government has also called for the proposals to show the financial structure of the project, type of financing and length of period for operation of the project, before reverting back to Government.
A bank guarantee for seriousness of proposal for a period of ninety (90) days, with a value of US $1 million is also part of the requirements.
"All submissions will be evaluated in detail in respect to...attractiveness of the project and compatibility with the tourism and development strategy of the Government, as well as proper attention to safeguard of the environment and the cultural heritage of the BVI. The evaluation of the proposals will be completed within 7 days of submission and the best two proposals will be invited for negotiations with a view to completing the process within two months of formal contact being made in respect to the invitation," the bid document points out.
The Tortola Port Partners (TPP) group has stated that they are still willing to work with the Virgin Islands Government and its people despite the new decision.
Hugh Darley, Director, Tortola Port Partners said that the group remains fully committed to the Tortola Pier Park project and look forward to a potential partnership with the BVI Government and its people.
"Since being selected from several competing proposals in March, our team has worked in close cooperation with the Government and local stakeholders to design a project in the best interest of the BVI," Darley stated.
He said that TPP welcomes transparency and respect the protocols that have been established to ensure that financially successful projects are being developed in the British Virgin Islands.
According to Darley, the additional process will also allow the Government to make public the details of the proposal and of other potential developers to clear up any misinformation previously reported about the approach and project deal points of the port development.
Premier Hon. Dr. Orlando Smith shared that it is Government's view that the proper way to proceed was to halt the process as it stood.
Premier Smith pointed out that Government took into account the Protocols for Effective Financial Management which Government signed with the UK in April.
According to GIS, in light of the protocols, the Premier asked Financial Secretary Mr. Neil Smith to confirm that the procurement process being used for the cruise pier has met Government's new commitments.
"Mr. Smith has now concluded his examination and found that the process to date has been an attempt to ensure a credible restrictive bidding procedure." Premier Smith said Mr. Smith cannot confirm, however, that it is in line with international best practice.
Premier Smith said by introducing greater transparency into the process for awarding large contracts, Government's intention is to ensure the most competitive offers and the best value for public money.
"My Government is determined to include the people of the BVI in the process of modernising our Territory - both in developing major new facilities such as the cruise pier and by operating in a transparent, efficient and cost-effective way. We will all be stronger as a result."
The Premier denied that the Government has already committed over $3M to the project. "No money has been committed and none will be until the new tendering process has concluded," the Premier stated.