354 James Walter Francis Drive
RJT Edifice Building, 5th Floor
Road Town, TORTOLA VG1110
Tel: 284 468 2730
Fax: 284 468 2750
STATEMENT BY MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS AND WORKS
HONOURABLE KYE M. RYMER AT THE FIFTH SITTING OF THE FIRST SESSION OF THE FIFTH HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY OF THE VIRGIN ISLANDS ON
THE WEST END FERRY TERMINAL
Tuesday 31st October 2023
Madam Speaker, early last month, I gave an update on the progress of development of the West End Ferry Terminal, and I stand here today to present a further update on the additional progress made to date on this important development for our Territory. It is well-known that prior to the 2017 hurricanes, West End was the busiest seaport in the Virgin Islands. Forty-one percent of sea arrivals and thirty-one percent of all arrivals into the Territory were processed through West End in 2016. This underscores the importance of this facility for our tourism and trade sectors.
Madam Speaker, under the direction of the Ministry of Communications and Works and in support of the Premier’s Office, the Virgin Islands Recovery and Development Agency, (RDA) is ably managing the design and construction of a new, expanded terminal. This work is being done in close partnership with key stakeholders including the BVI Ports Authority, the Immigration Department, the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force, His Majesty’s Customs, the BVI Tourist Board, ferry operators and taxi drivers.
Madam Speaker, the proposed 42,000 square foot facility will more than double the size of the previous facility, and will be designed to process up to 200 passengers per hour, or 200,000 passengers per year. It will provide a fast and efficient facility for immigration and customs processing, with separate handling for private and charter yachts, private boats and water taxis from ferry passengers.
Madam Speaker, the final design phase of the West End Ferry Terminal project has recently been completed. The full design set, including structural, architectural, mechanical, electrical and plumbing drawings as well as the environmental and social management plan have been submitted by the Design Consultant and are currently being reviewed. A preliminary conditional approval of submitted Architectural Drawings has been received from the Town and Country Planning Department.
Madam Speaker, in readying the West End Ferry Terminal project for the construction phase, a renewed prequalification procurement process was held, with all submissions received by 31st August 2023. Nine applicants participated in the second round of prequalification. Of these nine applicants, four, including two local applicants comprised of one standalone submission and one joint-venture, were shortlisted in the prequalification process. All four qualifying applicants will be issued the bidding package in order to submit comprehensive bids for the full construction of the West End Ferry Terminal.
Madam Speaker, I am particularly pleased to highlight that three local firms (one standalone applicant and two firms within a joint-venture application) were successful in the second-round of the prequalification process. This underscores the ability of our local contractors to succeed in competitive bidding processes. The four successfully-prequalified applicants will be invited to bid in the full tender process which will commence in the coming weeks, following approval of the full design set and compilation of required tender documentation.
Madam Speaker, specifically outlining recent key milestones achieved for this project thus far:
Madam Speaker, once approval of the full set of design drawings is received from the Town and Country Planning Department in the coming weeks, a ‘No Objection’ will be sought from the Caribbean Development Bank. As the primary funder of this project through the Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Loan, the CDB reviews and approves tender documentation. Following receipt of CDB’s ‘No Objection,’ the RDA will move forward with the full tender process, inviting the four prequalified applicants to bid on the project.
Madam Speaker, based on the current status and progress of the project, the RDA anticipates that the tender process will begin by early next year and conclude within approximately eight weeks. This will facilitate mobilisation and start of construction by the end of the second quarter of 2024. The anticipated construction schedule for this project is 24 months, and the project is therefore currently expected to be completed by mid-2026.
The Rebuild and the National Sustainable Development Plan
Madam Speaker, the rebuild of the West End Ferry Terminal will facilitate improvement to BVI’s tourism offerings and local commerce. The improved facility will create direct and indirect jobs within the tourism and broader services sectors and provide an enhanced traveling experience for residents and visitors to the Territory. The terminal will be built sustainably and resilient. It will also provide for simplified construction using local materials to maximise energy efficiency.
Madam Speaker, in the context of our overall national sustainable development, this project works to progress us to achieving Outcome 11 of the National Sustainable Development Plan (NSDP) - increasing access to sea transport and facilitating easy movement of people, goods and services for the socioeconomic benefit of all citisens and visitors. This is a critical outcome for our Infrastructural Development, which is Goal 4 of the NSDP - emphasising resilience building and access to sustainable services.
Madam Speaker, development of our main Terrence B. Lettsome International Airport also forms an important part of our strategy for improving transportation infrastructure and access to the Virgin Islands. The airport and the West End Ferry Terminal will facilitate transportation to and from the Territory by different means. Expansion of the airport is aimed at facilitating an increase in direct flights to the Territory from the mainland United States, and creating direct routes from Europe. While the West End Ferry Terminal will cater to private and charter yachts, private boats and water taxis as well as facilitating reliable access for ferry passengers from the neighbouring USVI and between Jost van Dyke and Tortola. While both aim at improving transportation and access, the Airport and the Ferry Terminal cater to different markets and meet distinct needs, all towards improvement of access to our islands, development of our tourism product, and our overall socioeconomic advancement.
I would like to publicly thank the RDA for their continued pursuit of excellence on this major project and for working with my Ministry, the Ministry of Communications and Works, to advance the works.
Thank you, Madam Speaker.