It is the start of another year and the exploration of the Sophers Hole Jetty also known as the West End Ferry dock renovation plan is reappearing on the list of 2017 possibilities, as Minister for Communications and Works, Hon. Mark Vanterpool once again promised that at least some part of the project will be looked at.
The West End Ferry dock/Sophers Hole Jetty is one of three in the Territory that government indicated will be improved. However, the need for upgrades to be done to the West End facility has been in talks for a long time, but much was not done. In fact it appears that the project is moving in circles with a $3M budget being declared in 2014 to an announced zero budget in 2016.
Nonetheless, Minister for Communications and Works, Hon. Mark Vanterpool during the 19 December House of Assembly sitting indicated that the project will move forward with its consultation requirement within months.
This consultation announcement, like others relating to the project was made during the questions and answers section between First District Representative, Hon. Andrew Fahie, and Minister Vanterpool.
During the 19 December sitting Hon. Fahie asked the Minister for Communications to inform the House when Government plans to have the public meeting to discuss the new Sopher’s Hole Jetty facilities that is designed for the First District. Hon. Fahie also queried the proposed cost of the project, and the scheduled commencement time.
In response Hon. Vanterpool explained that the BVI Ports Authority is currently considering capital development projects at Sophers Hole, Virgin Gorda and Road Town, and he said that at this time costs are unknown.
However, the Minister did indicate that public consultation was scheduled for this quarter: “I cannot give a commencement date at this time, however, I anticipate that community consultation on the projects mentioned will begin in the first quarter of 2017,” Hon. Vanterpool told the House.
Project Derailed by Cruise Pier
During the House of Assembly on 22 September it was disclosed during a questions and answer segment that the project was placed on the backburner in lieu of the Cruise Pier project.
At that sitting the Minister explained: “Madam Speaker, our Government had to prioritize our port development projects and this resulted in the execution of the Cruise Pier Expansion, as a first option.”
“The BVI Ports Authority is currently revisiting capital development projects at Sophers Hole, Virgin Gorda and Road Town. These projects will also be prioritized and following stakeholder consultations, a recommendation will be forwarded to Cabinet for approval,” Hon. Vanterpool added.
2015 Project Contractor Selected
In 2015 during an update on the project Minister Vanterpool announced that Government is still very interested in the West End/Sophers Hole Jetty (Dock). In fact the Works Minister assured on 26 May 2015 that the promised improvement would be delivered: “Yes, a contractor has been selected for the West End ferry dock improvements.”
Back in November 2014 Hon. Vanterpool during a questions and answers segment of the House of Assembly confirmed that the invitation for tenders for the design and construction of a new or newly renovated ferry terminal, ferry dock, and ancillary facilities at the West End/Sophers Hole Jetty were earmarked for $3,000,000 and that Government was firm on this figure.