(Photo Credit: Clifton Skelton/BVI Platinum News)
Government is now promising that the West End port facility will be functional and ready to receive traffic from neighboring islands before the Christmas holidays.
This new promise was made by Hon. Mark Vanterpool, Minister of Communications and Works this week.
“We are looking at opening that port sometime in November. We are doing some things right now to prepare for that with temporary buildings we are putting down there. We are hoping to have the passenger traffic in that area by mid-November,” he said.
The Minister added, “So we are working towards that, and we want to see it opened a little while before Christmas so that we can have traffic from St. Thomas coming up back.”
In July, Mr. Anthony McMaster, Permanent Secretary in Ministry of Communications and Works had indicated that government completed designs for a new building.
He said that they were hoping to agree and arrange with the District Representative, Hon. Andrew Fahie, to set up a community meeting to share the schematics with the community to get their input.
Mr. McMaster said that the new building would allow for the full reopening of the facility and permit for future expansions based on the current designs.
The West End port facility was completely demolished by Hurricane Irma and in the interim, a 20-foot trailer container was donated in July to accommodate the customs and immigration office at the port.
Government has been receiving criticisms for not acting swiftly to address the issue at the West End port.
Prior to the hurricane, the National Democratic Party (NDP) administration was accused of placing the new jetty project on the backburner, a project which was top priority for the former Virgin Islands Party (VIP) government.
NDP had considerably scaled back the project by some $40M. Under VIP government, the expansion was estimated to cost in the region of $43M.
A few months prior to Hurricane Irma, the government was unable to provide a timeline as to when they will present a proposed plan to the people of West End for the new ferry terminal. Further, no funding was identified for the $3M project.
The project falls under the BVI Ports Authority (BVIPA).