Is Sea Bridge worth it?

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It seemed somehow a bittersweet situation as the official ceremony to launch the Sea Bridge (SKN) Inc. ferry service took place at Cades Bay last month.  To some it is a welcome addition to the existing carrier of vehicles between Nevis and St. Kitts, to others it is a “Penny wise, pound foolish” venture that will have severe negative and long lasting effects on our island.

The glaring occurrence that prompted my alarm is the short period of time it took to complete the ramp and start operating ferry services. In less than thirteen months after the NRP government took office, the first trip on the Sea Bridge was accomplished and subsequent regular trips have been taking place.

Although I possess limited knowledge of how the procedures for establishing similar projects are undertaken, it remains mind-boggling that a project of this magnitude could have been completed within thirteen months. I believe there are usually time consuming moments if one goes through the normal and correct channels before completing such undertakings.

Here are just a few questions for which I do not profess to have the answers:

1) Was the project given an accelerated pass through the approval processes?

2) Were the necessary and required assessments done?

3) Could this be a case where those who should be setting prime examples by upholding laws and procedures on the island are breaking them?

4) Is it that the environmental impact and other necessary studies are exempt for financiers of the ruling political party?

5) Have the authorities checked to see if the insurance papers are in order?

I do not know the answers to these questions.  But, given the speed at which this project was put in place and in light of the Christena disaster, it simply raises the question as to whether every measure was put in place to protect the interests and safety of the traveling public.

Application for the Sea Bridge operation commenced with the former CCM administration and was a welcome adventure as far as the government was concerned.  The proposed location at Cades Bay where villas already exist was definitely not what CCM would have agreed upon as the said land was leased for high end quality tourism and villas development. Great potential for other similar investments and development for the short and long term economic and social benefits for the vast majority of the people of Nevis also prevailed.

Of tremendous concern to tourism and hospitality is the fact that prime beachfront area with its unique location would have been much more beneficial to the people of Nevis than the additional ferry service that exists at Cades Bay.

The docking structure that now protrudes haphazardly into the sea also creates a highly possible prolonged effect of beach erosion. There most likely will be a negative impact on the ecology of the area and will very likely cause significant damage to the marine and biological environment.

Engineer A. Michael Perkins who has resourceful and also first hand knowledge as to the entire project has strongly objected to the approval of what is now the Cades Bay port on these and other grounds.

Security is another critical matter, as the Cades Bay port creates an avenue for more questionable activities. Open ports are viewed as golden opportunities for drug and arms traffickers among other wrongful and illegal happenings. Our Police Department that many agree is under staffed and lacking of adequate and basic equipment, has not been able to maintain a constant presence at the Charlestown pier and therefore is unlikely to man the Cades Bay facility.  Have we created along with the Sea Bridge a great element of hope for illegal activities?

Now with that aside, one just need to take a good look at the area and visualize how beaming and wonderful it would have been to have a hotel or some other tourist resort located at the said location.  The ambiance of the place would have greatly elevated the value of the entire surroundings and tourism our main product would have been given a tremendous boost. Cades Bay, the surrounding areas and Nevis on a whole had the opportunity of being significantly enhanced with a hotel built in the area.

Creating Cades Bay port for Sea Bridge (SKN) Inc. seems unfitting and a blatant misuse of prime property for services that should have been utilized at the Charlestown or Long Point Pier; or a rebuilt New Castle Pier. Sacrificing tourism, hotel and villas accommodation for the same has significantly affected the potential of the area, and that is rather unfortunate.

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