Unfortunately, the Sophers Hole Jetty or West End ferry terminal will not be functioning in a somewhat pre-Irma state until next year. This means that the facility would have been down for a year after being destroyed by hurricane Irma in September 2017.
A few months ago the Minister promised that the facility would have been in a better position that it was earlier in the year by the end of 2018. However, during a press conference last week Hon. Vanterpool explained that the facility will not reopen to pre-Irma state until 2019.
He told reporters on 6 December: “We have put some temporary measures there … We have a little longer term where we are hoping to have the West End port open and operating by January, February next year for ferry passengers; but we have done some temporary measures there to put some offices that can operate in a more amicable way than they are working in, and the conditions down there at the moment.”
The recent announcement follows a promise from Hon. Vanterpool on 1 October during the NDP radio program that the facility would have been ready by November. At that forum Hon. Vanterpool announced, “We are looking at opening that port sometime in November. We are doing some things right now to prepare for that with temporary buildings we are putting down there. We are hoping to have the passenger traffic in that area by mid-November.”
“So we are working towards that, and we want to see it opened a little while before Christmas so that we can have traffic from St. Thomas coming up back,” he added.
The post Irma situation at the West End ferry terminal has been lamented extensively by Leader of the Opposition, and First District Representative, Hon Andrew Fahie. The Leader of the Opposition complained that the taxi drivers and other person who made a living from working at the Sopher’s Hole jetty are having difficulties now that the West End ferry terminal is out of service.
For months the Leader of the Opposition enquired from Government when a temporary solution would be put in place.
The discussion on bringing the terminal back to service was had during the 8 March continued sitting of the House of Assembly. At that time Hon. Fahie noted that since hurricane Irma destroyed the dock ferries have been running from Road Town and he asked when the Red Hook to West End route might be reestablished.
In response Minister Vanterpool disclosed that Government has made an effort to secure a temporary facility. The Minister told the House: “In order for the operation to resume a temporary building has been ordered for the Sophers Hole ferry terminal and was expected to be shipped on the 19 February. It is expected to arrive in the Territory shortly and it would be erected shortly thereafter.”
The Communications and Works Minister said that his Ministry is hoping to have a temporary terminal operational by the end of April this year. Hon. Vanterpool also noted that the Ports Authority is currently considering a trailer to house the Customs and other similar operations at the Sopher’s Hole jetty.
However, the Minister said that he cannot say if the Port will purchase this retrofitted trailer that is being discussed. “They are having discussions on the matter in fact within the same tent discussion they have been discussing. The same group in terms of what might be available to them to assist especially the Customs in the execution of their duties at Sopher’s Hole.”