Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy, Kirk Humphrey, speaking with the media, following Wednesday’s tour of the Bridgetown Port. (NP/BGIS)

Progress is being made in a one-billion-dollar master plan to enhance port operations in Barbados, over the next 10 years.

Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy, Kirk Humphrey, gave an update following a tour of the port on Wednesday.  He was accompanied by new Chairman of the Barbados Port Inc. (BPI), Peter Odle; Chief Executive Officer, David Jean-Marie; and other officials from the BPI and the Ministry.

Minister Humphrey highlighted three major projects being spearheaded by the BPI, which he said were “fairly advanced”.  The first being the construction of a cruise terminal at Speightstown, St. Peter.  He said authorities held consultations with stakeholders, including residents of the area, adding that the requests for proposals had been issued, and was now being evaluated.

The second project would see the Shallow Draught being expanded, doubling the existing berthing space and providing accommodation for related activities.

“A number of Barbadian businesses have been calling for it, [for example] persons in domestic shipping, so we’re taking care of that sector as well.  And I think for us it’s going to be a major win … it’s going to make life easier for those who have been doing this business for a long time,” the Minister said.

The third project, he explained, was geared towards the development of a local yachting industry.  This plan was focused on the establishment of proper haul-out and repair facilities for these vessels.

According to Minister Humphrey, Barbados was missing out on business opportunities because “there are a number of people who own yachts and larger vessels who would like to do their business in Barbados, but because we did not have a proper haul out facility [or] repair facility, a lot of these [persons] would leave Barbados and go elsewhere to have their vessels repaired.”

The Minister of Maritime Affairs said efforts were under way to put Barbados in a position to provide these and other related services, which would pave the way for the island to tap into the multimillion dollar industry.

“It is going to generate tremendous revenue and it is going to generate tremendous jobs,” he added, noting that emphasis would also be placed on “retooling Barbadians” so they would be ready to take advantage of available opportunities when the sector is up and running.

Noting that the port was in the process of digitising and automating various aspects of its operations for some time, Mr. Humphrey said it was important for authorities to focus on making it easier to conduct business online.  He added that the changes made so far, in this regard, were effective during the lockdown, and further measures were being implemented. 

Emphasising Government’s commitment to enhancing security at the island’s ports of entry, he pointed out that since the installation of a state-of-the-art scanner, they were now “scanning 100 per cent of the containers that leave the port”.

Other plans for the Bridgetown Port, according to port officials, include: putting measures in place to separate cruise passengers from cargo, improved staffing quarters, and the construction of a pathway away from vehicular traffic, to safely accommodate visitors who opt to walk to, and from The City. Additionally, the port will be the home of a new fire station to serve Bridgetown. The building, which was formerly the mechanical workshop, will be redesigned to accommodate the officers and two appliances.

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