The modern Basseterre ferry terminal officially opened its doors Wednesday to the public with passengers able to wait for ferries in a more comfortable environment.
After months of construction and numerous setbacks the St. Christopher Air and Sea Ports Authority (SCASPA) unveiled the modern facility that will make life easier and safer for passengers travelling between St, Kitts and Nevis.
Facility Manager at SCASPA Mervin Lewis indicated that his organisation did an evaluation on the former building and it revealed that the existing structure needed major construction.
He said, “The new design includes ticket booth accommodating all ferry operators, rest room facilities, upgrades to our security guards room, wheelchair ramps and an open area for domino, chest and draught, waste water treatment plants, x-ray machine, body scanners and metal detectors.
“As work progressed it was further agreed and approved that the building be constructed with a concrete roof. This will also allow for further expansion to accommodate offices to house customs, immigration and other agencies.”
Lewis said the old terminal was in bad shape. “It was on its last stage of corrosion, therefore a decision was made to demolish the existing structure and start a fresh construction.”
The SCASPA official also spoke to the numerous setbacks that were faced during the construction of the facility.
“The project was slated to be completed in time for the St. Kitts Music Festival in June. However due to unforeseen circumstances the completion date was delayed. Another deadline was set and it was hoped to be completed for Culturama in August. But the project faced yet another unavoidable delay which again changed the completion date.
“At this stage the building was about 85 percent completed. In September we got hit by the two massive hurricanes that slowed down the project tremendously and the surrounding areas which became flooded caused a further delay.”
Lewis indicated that despite the setbacks the construction team rallied their resources and got the project completed.
He said the building has a seating capacity of 75 passengers and will also feature monitors displaying the ferry schedule. Lewis noted there are also two canopy shelters for passengers who are not ready to enter the facility.
He also explained the cost of constructing the terminal. “The estimated cost of the facility amounts to EC $1.4Million that is to accommodate for the equipment. Adding to the cost was a 75megawatt generator waiting to be installed. The idea to equip the generator is not only to accommodate the air-condition but also to accommodate the waste water treatment plant.”
Minister of Transport Ian ‘Patches’ Liburd, at the grand opening, said, “As the Minister I am pleased to be a part of this function today because the ferry service between St. Kitts and Nevis is so important for businesses, schools and for personal travel.”
He then highlighted the significance the new facility will play in the important inter island travel.
“This provides a critical link in inter island transportation structure which serve more than 140,000 passenger. If we reflect on the statistics in 2013 this pier accommodated some 126,000 passengers between St. Kitts and Nevis.”
He further revealed that just last year those numbers grew to more 141, 000 passengers plied the waters between St. Kitts and Nevis using this facility.
“One can see how important it is to have this facility. Marine transportation is vital to St. Kitts and Nevis and the frequent services and frequent scheduling creates economic opportunities.”
Liburd along with Governor General of St. Kitts and Nevis His Excellency Sir Tapley Seaton QC, Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris and Nevisian Premier Vance Amory cut the symbolic ribbons signifying the opening of the facility.