A closing ceremony on Friday marked the end of the much anticipated dredging of the St John’s Harbour, which Antigua & Barbuda Port Authority officials said was completed ahead of schedule.
Work on the project commenced in in mid-February.
The maintenance dredging of one of the country’s main tourism ports of entry was made possible through a US$3.9 million loan from the China Civil Engineering and Construction Company (CCECC)
The money was part of the overall US$268 million being loaned to Antigua by the CCECC for the St John’s Waterfront Development project.
Project Engineer, Evron Zachariah, who presented a slideshow of the work which spanned over a one-month period, said workmen toiled sometimes over a 24 hour period to ensure the work was done.
“One of the ways in which we were able to do that was through a 24-hour operation. So you can see pictures carrying out dredge during the night and that was particular important for us, because it was at that time the harbour basin was available because no ships were in,” Zachariah said.
Port Manager Darwin Telemaque, who also conducted a part of the presentation, said he was pleased with the work which was done by Trinidad – based company, Ansa Technologies and sub-contractor Bokalis.
“There was a massive cruise ship which docked at the Nevis Street Pier on Friday without any questions being asked about the depth. Thank you CCEC,” Telemaque said.
He said several cruise lines threatened to cease calling on Antigua if the sweeping was not done, since the presence of silt close to the surface posed difficulty for the berthing of ships.
Telemaque said prior to the dredging, ships also complained of having difficulty manoeuvring in the turning basin at the St John’s Harbour, but that difficulty no longer exists.
“The turning basin was silted on both sides. This created a narrowing of the turning basin and the ships would actually take 20-25 minutes to turn around in this environment. The ships now take seven minutes. Big difference,” the port manager said.
He said the larger vessels are now burning less fuel and have stopped complaining.
(More in today’s Daily Observer)