After a long wait the residents of the First District were finally able to hear about the plans for the West End ferry terminal which has been in bad shape for years and was ultimately pummeled by hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017.
The need for the West End ferry terminal to be rebuilt was a belaboured point for the District representative over the years as he stood in the Opposition; but now as the Premier of the BVI Hon. Fahie has taken swift action to get the project started.
At the well-attended meeting held on 2 April the preliminary plans in relations to the concept for the redevelopment of the West End Ferry terminal were shared. In his chairing role of the evening’s proceeding Broderick Penn of the Disaster Recovery Coordinating Committee stated that the main aim of the gathering was to get input from residents on how they felt that the plans should progress.
In his address to the constituents before the presentation of the plans Premier Fahie said that he told Penn and his team that they would need to move the project to the front of the to-do list not because he is from the area, but because it is overdue: “To have the major port some 19 months after Irma still not open to traffic of ferries coming from either abroad, St Thomas etc is not good and some of the working environment I have seen the Treasury staff, the Customs and Immigration over the last few months and years it concerns me. Now I know that you are coming out of a storm, so I beared with it for a few months and I tolerated it for a few months but it is time now to get it looked at,” Hon. Fahie declared.
The Premier told the First District residents that he did not want the project to be one where the people were not part of the planning and stressed that the plans presented to the meeting were just initial concepts.
“Tonight this meeting is to hear your views because one of the things that I said to all the members is that we don’t want to go and design something and at the end hold a meeting where the people’s voice and concerns don’t have any bearing on the design…What you are about to see tonight are only preliminary designs. Your voice will be heard and upon hearing your voice we are going to go back and make sure that we get this project up and running because financially the Port is one of the largest revenue makers for government,” Hon. Fahie said.
Neil Smith presented the conceptual plans for the project on behalf of the Recovery Development Agency (RDA) who is carrying out the works; and he noted that it is imperative that the West End Ferry dock is back up and running as it is a significant port of entry.
Smith noted that in 2016 a total of 123,437 non-cruise arrivals visited the Territory via West End. He said that government is looking to have a facility that will increase that number of non-cruise arrivals.
The conceptualized plan for the facility includes terminal capacity, baggage handling and cargo area, security; plus additional facilities such as concession stalls, taxi dispatch area, ticket counters for ferry operators, security inspection, treasury cashiers, port cashiers, facilities management, and parking facilities. It was noted that accessibility for the differently abled and office space for people working at the port were also taken into consideration.
Smith said that one of the things that the Ministry required for the project was that it was able to process 200 passengers per hour. “The facility in West End when it is finally designed and built will be able to process 200 passengers per hour. It also need provision for processing separation between international passengers and domestic passengers.”