ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Chairman Barbuda Council Kelvin Punter said the authority has no plans to repair the badly deteriorated Barbuda Dock.
The good news, however, is that arrangements are being made to build an entirely new dock out of concrete and steel to replace the rotting wooden one.
While acknowledging that the dock is in an “extremely deplorable state” Punter said, “We are not looking at repairing now; we are looking at having a totally new facility built. We are currently waiting on the Antigua Port Authority, they are the final director on the final timeline as to when the work will actually commence.”
Punter said it is hoped that negotiations would be completed soon and that work could start in under a month.
“I can not say exactly when work would begin, but coming out of an emergency meeting the Barbuda Council held on Saturday, we got a report that we are looking at three weeks to a month start time so I hope that we can work within that time and would also hope it would be sooner,” the council chairman said.
In December 2009, Punter told OBSERVER Media the Port Authority had taken estimates and was awaiting materials from Antigua to start work.
However, yesterday he said nothing has happened since then and the dock continues to fall apart.
“The port had said to us that they know it needs repairing but financially they just could not touch it at that point,” Punter said.
Community activist John Mussington painted a very grim picture of the condition on the sister’s isle only port of entry.
“It has fallen apart to the extent that only one small section remains and if that section falls apart then it will not be operational period and that part is already weak … it has in fact deteriorated to an extent where over 80 per cent of its area is unusable,” Mussington said.
He added, “Prior to the destruction to the dock, at least five boats, along with the ferry, could have docked at the facility. Right now more than one boat cannot operate in that area as there is now only 20 to 25 feet section which is still usable by the boats that dock up there to do their offloading work.”
According to Mussington, some time last year workers hired by the Port Authority had dismantled parts of the damaged dock but they never returned to rebuild it.
(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)