Barbados Port Inc (BPI) will begin construction of a new Administration Building in January 2019.
The new four-storey building estimated at a cost of $20 million, should be completed over the next 15 months.
The new facility will also house the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy.
Speaking during the groundbreaking ceremony hosted on December 14, 2018 to signal the start of construction, Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy, Kirk Humphrey, said approximately 200 persons will be employed at different stages during the construction period. He said some workers retrenched under the Barbados Economic Recovery Transformation Programme could be hired for the project.
The Minister gave the assurance that all efforts were being made to follow proper procedures during the building process and to ensure that timelines were kept, through a period of constant reporting.
Addressing other aspects of BPI’s operations, the Minister spoke to the need to separate cruise and cargo. Noting, “The bulk of our business here now is actually cargo” he said at the same time “a lot of people pass through and a significant number walk through the Port”. As such, he said Barbados must be fit for purpose.
“It means that we must have a cargo industry that is efficient, that is effective and that we can turn over cargo as quickly as possible. We also want to improve what we offer as our cruise product so that we would have a first class cruise building and product. We want to be a hub so that people will choose Barbados as a natural destination,” he stated.
Minister Humphrey also noted that efforts were under way to improve surveillance equipment and to acquire more advanced scanners to ensure the Port had the capacity to secure the island’s borders and its people.
BPI Chairman, Senator Lisa Cummins, explained that the new building comes out of a joint venture partnership formed between Caribbean Consultants Ltd (CCL) and the Barbados Port Inc.’s Defined Benefit Pension Plan (BPIDBPP).
Ms. Cummins added that early in the new year, BPI’s management would seek to explore a new model for the organization that would include cargo, cruise and property development.
“We are going to be talking about creating a vertical integration model for the Barbados Port. We want to be able to transform the Port and all of its operations into a key logistics hub for the entire southern region of the Caribbean. We want to partner more with our private sector colleagues,” she said.
The Senator further noted that discussions would also be held in relation to cruise terminals and marine facilities and how they needed to be expanded, particularly in the Shallow Draught.
However, she stressed that those discussions would also seek to outline what the public/private sector partnership should look like, and the details surrounding such to ensure that the best interest of the Government, the Port and the people of Barbados was protected.