By: Erasmus Williams
Basseterre, St Kitts, April 17, 2019 – An additional US$7 million (EC$18.9 million) will be needed for more piles, more steel and more concrete to complete the construction of the second cruise ship pier at St Kitts’ Port Zante, former St Kitts and Nevis federal minister of tourism and national security, Dwyer Astaphan disclosed Tuesday night on his weekly radio programme The Operating Room. Information on the cost overrun was first made public by Leader of the Opposition, the Rt Hon Dr Denzil L Douglas.
Astaphan said that the additional US$7 million (EC$18.9 million) cost which will take the price tag to EC$148.5 million, could be as a result of either improper due diligence, inadequate environmental impact assessment or the new soil sample which show the existence of rock on the seabed.
He told listeners the new development was “a very serious matter that requires not arrogance, but cool heads, a vibe or attitude of trying to reconcile” between the contracting parties.
“The pier needs to be completed on time. The contractors are saying they need an additional US$7 million in overruns but if a compromised arrangement is not reached, then the contractors can stop work, they can pull out their equipment and we have an unfinished project,” said Astaphan who disclosed he has been informed that the contractors through one of their top officials tried talking with the minister (Hon Ian Patches Liburd), at a meeting recently as did a top official of the Canadian Commercial Corporation, “and the minister was very undiplomatic and tackless and insulting towards them. They felt insulted.”
He reported the minister as telling the CCC officials ‘its your fault, you find a way to do it. You find a way, I cannot find a way so I am taking up my equipment and you will have a three-quarter pier or half of a pier.’
Astaphan opined that if the Government of St Kitts and Nevis has to absorb the US$7 million in order to get the pier completed, it has to be done.
He said based on the information he has received it is alarming that the minister had not inform or consulted with the Cabinet as soon as the matter had come to his attention.
“We do not know if the Cabinet has been fully apprised even now, although we are told that the prime minister has been apprised and we presume and hope that he will inform the Cabinet and full discussion on the matter held.
Further, we do not know if the investors in the pier project – the Sugar Industry Diversification Programme (SIDF), Social Security, National Bank and TDC have been made officially and fully aware of the US$7 million additional cost to the project and if so what were they told and what is or what their reaction would be.”
Astaphan said he has been informed that the minister has been marginalizing the SCASPA Board of Directors and operate on the principle that they need to know as little as possible.
“The Board is not a creature of the minister. The Board is a creature of an Act of Parliament and the minister has ministerial responsibility of oversight to share with the Board through its chairman the broad policy directives, direction and guidance,” Astaphan said.
Scheduled to cost EC$86.4 million under the then governing St Kitts-Nevis Labour Party administration, the cost of the cruise ship pier ballooned to a whopping EC$129.6 million price tag – EC$43.2 million more under the Timothy Harris-led Team Unity Government.
The St Christopher Air and Sea Ports Authority (SCASPA) secured an EC$91.8 million loan from the St Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla National Bank; EC$18.9 million from the St. Kitts and Nevis Social Security Board; EC$13.5 million from the St. Kitts and Nevis Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation (SIDF) and EC$5.4 million from the St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla Trading and Development Company (TDC).
Construction began in June 2018 and is expected to be completed in September 2019.
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