The Government of Montserrat in partnership with the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) held a groundbreaking ceremony today to signal the transition to the construction phase of the Montserrat Port Development Project.

Drilling and geotechnical investigations of the sea bed will commence in July during the design process which will be conducted over a three to four month period, as part of preparations for construction activity.  The data collected during the investigations will inform the exact materials and methodology to be used in the dock structures. 

Following this, construction is expected to begin by approximately November 2022 and will span for a period of 18-months.

Today’s groundbreaking ceremony follows the May 19, 2022 signing of the Design Build Contract between the Government of Montserrat and BVI-based company—Meridian Construction Limited.  The contract is valued at ninety million, one hundred and eighty-eight thousand, nine hundred and twenty Eastern Caribbean dollars (XCD $90,188,920.00) for the design and construction of the Port Facility in Little Bay.

The Project was initially funded by the UK Government through £14.4 million grant funding by the UK Caribbean Infrastructure Fund (UKCIF). However, in May 2022 the UK Government further demonstrated its strong commitment to the Montserrat Port Development by increasing their support by an additional £13.9 million, to a total of £28.3 million for the proposed port development at Little Bay.

Speaking at the Ground-breaking Ceremony, Governor, Her Excellency Sarah Tucker commented on the UK Government’s commitment to support Montserrat’s efforts to improve access and trade to the island.  While praising the Ministries, regional and international agencies and partners for their hard-work to get to this point, Governor Tucker said, “I know it’s been a labour of love and a bit of pain for all concerned to get to today. The UK Government understands how pivotal the port project is for Montserrat’s revitalization, it’s economic development and sustainability and as Governor I was so pleased to receive confirmation that the UK Government was able to make a tangible demonstration of its continued support for our wonderful island by increasing the funding for this project…this investment in the port infrastructure will provide a safe, secure, modern and I hope green facility for the island.”

The grant funding from the UK under the UK Caribbean Infrastructure Fund (UKCIF) is administered by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).

Vice President, Operations at the CDB, Mr. Isaac Solomon spoke about the expected outcomes of the project.  “In this global environment, countries must be able to trade efficiently in order to prosper. The Montserrat Port Development project will be one of the largest projects implemented in recent times and upon completion it is expected that this new facility will provide employment opportunities and help to improve productivity and the business environment here on Montserrat.  Over the long-term, the provision of reliable access and connectivity to the island for the movement of people, goods and services should increase its trading potential which will ultimately have a positive impact on growth,” expressed Mr. Solomon.

The implementing agencies from the Government of Montserrat are the Ministry of Finance and Economic Management and the Ministry of Communication, Works, Labour and Energy.

Montserrat’s Premier and Minister of Finance, Hon. Joseph E. Farrell acknowledged the set-backs by natural disasters which have impeded Montserrat’s growth and development, and which for over 25 years have resulted in the construction of temporary facilities including the current Port Facility.  However, he said today’s ground breaking signals a change for the island. “Today is also the first step towards enabling meaningful land side development, the creation of a new centre of commerce and social exchange in Little Bay and the attraction of new opportunities for tourism, trade and investment,” stated Premier Farrell.  

The Premier noted that employment opportunities will also be generated from the Port Project.  He added, “This project is expected to boost our current economy, based on the many direct and indirect benefits it will provide to the people of Montserrat during and after its construction.  We expect to see a rise in the level of employment in the private sector, more investment opportunities, access to wider markets, a decrease in transportation costs overtime and access to a range of port related services.”

Minister of Works, Dr. The Hon. Samuel Joseph delivered the feature address highlighting the importance of seeing this particular project as a holistic Monsterrat project driven by the people of Montserrat who are capable of charting the island’s future.  He noted that the Montserrat Port Development project should be seen as an opportunity for local businesses to thrive and to see the possibilities for exporting goods and for economic opportunity through tourism.

During the construction process, Meridian Construction Limited indicated that they will hire local carpenters, masons, steel fixers and will support local businesses for the supply of material; while only specialist workmen and equipment will be brought in from overseas.

The project is expected to deliver the following:

• A combined offshore breakwater and Pier structure consisting of a steel sheet pile wall and cylindrical steel piles.
• A ramp for roll-on / roll-off (ro-ro) cargo (23 m wide);

• Approximately 75m of breakwater protection along the sea-side of the Pier, with access to shore via a causeway. The berth will have a 130 m long berth face and an apron width of 20 m;
• A 10 m wide two-lane access road along the south side of Rendezvous Hill to the land start of the breakwater;
• Slope stabilization and shore protection works; and
• Dredging works to form a turning basin and approach channel with a water depth of -8 m chart datum (CD)

The Government of Montserrat is providing £7 million in counterpart resources with financial support from the European Union under the EDF 11.

The video of the ceremony is available on the Government Information Unit’s (GIU’s) YouTube platform:

Montserrat Port Development Project Ground Breaking Ceremony June 21, 2022 – YouTube

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