Dredging of St. John’s Harbour will cost taxpayers more, Cabinet says, since Blue Ocean equipment has been damaged

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REAL NEWS- The dredging activity in the St. John’s Harbour seems to be taking forever, residents say; and it is now expected to cost the taxpayers more money.

The principals of Blue Ocean, the dredging company, reportedly met with the Cabinet on Wednesday, August 24, to discuss the progress being made according to the time-frame given by the Executive.

According to reports, the hard rock the company encountered has disabled both the drill and the engine of one of its dredging machines. As a result, they had to be repaired “at great cost,” the Cabinet Notes claim.

The Notes say these setbacks have increased Blue Ocean’s operational cost and will “require additional payments by the Government in order to reach the established deadline.”

No indication of the quantum of these payments was given, however.

St. John’s Harbour was to have been transformed – with the turning basin and the channel enlarged – to prepare Antigua to receive the massive OASIS Class ships. The project should have been completed before the end of 2020 and the vessels should have begun docking here since last year

However, since Blue Ocean began the work, it appears to have encountered numerous challenges.

A Cabinet Note that was posted to Prime Minister Gaston Browne’s Facebook page on March 5, 2020, revealed that the company had encountered similar difficulties with its dredging equipment.

At that time, it was noted that the work had been slowed by the need for superior equipment – since the engineers had decided that a 40-foot beam was required to get even further below the seabed.

Two years ago, the company head also reported that dredging was continuing 24 hours a day; that the piling was 98% complete; and that the pouring of concrete was nearly done. According to his report, then, 20,000 cubic yards of crushed stone were being brought in to stabilize the newly created 12 acres that the Port plan envisions.

Among other plans, a new dock for the Montserrat Ferry was being constructed, in addition to a new wharf on the northern side of Rat Island for use by the fisherfolk who dock at the Point Wharf, and a 20-foot walkway from the new wharf to Heritage Quay.

In 2020, the Cabinet also claimed that Blue Ocean had work lined up for it in other Caribbean countries, as well as in Barbuda. However, the company is still engaged in this project in Antigua.

The controversial “private” company NAMCO has a stake in Blue Ocean Marine, out of which the Cabinet had said that profits would flow to Antigua and Barbuda. However, no financial statements for NAMCO have ever been published.

A government employee tells REAL News he “does not believe a word the Cabinet says” with regard to the increase in dredging costs.

Rather, he says, he “is convinced that the so-called additional payments will become part of the Labour Party’s slush fund” for the upcoming general elections.

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12 COMMENTS

  1. This cost should not be passed on to the taxpayers.

    This is absurdity.

    They got a job, we are not responsible for their tools, that is their loss. What ignorance…….

    • Clearly the ignorant one here is you. Unforeseen circumstances exist in any form of construction etc. the article was clear, the underlying rock was much harder than first anticipated. Cost overruns are generally expected. While unfortunate; this should be understood.

      • Yes ME there could have been unforseen circumstances such as the hard bedrock. However, please tell me what was an excavator on a barge doing for over a year scooping up water. The day the government change this would have to be a major investigation because that situation was outrageous. An excavator scooping up water cannot deal with hard bedrock. Bedrock requires serious dredging and not scooping water.

      • @Me
        You are the one who seems very ignorant. If you sign a contract with a contractor for job and his equipment brakes down would you be responsible for the repairs. Who owns blue ocean anyway and why is the government responsible for their expenses.

    • @Melchesidec…it depends on the Scope of Work, and the Contractual Agreement(s).
      RFI’s are still part of the construction contract!

      Jumbee_Picknee!

  2. Notes From A Native Son Of The Rock!

    “A government or party gets the people it deserves and sooner or later a people gets the government it deserves.” Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of The Earth!

    Oh Gad! Hab Mercy Pan Arwe!

    That’s the outcome of having no scientific minds or capable engineers in either the Cabinet or the Administrative State! Of that, the UWI Five Islands Campus Principal was MOST CLEAR!

    “There are too many idiots in the world. And having said it, I have the burden of proving it.” Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks!

    The owner, the Tax Payers, note this mere voice in the wilderness did not say government who have long abandoned entrepreneurial socialism, dabbled a bit in empowerment capitalism and landed in the deep blue of enrichment schemes, as is a well known legal concept in construction and heavy infrastructure development, are not responsible for the Contractor’s MEANS and METHODS!

    How Daft are They! Truly they must know that for People of African Descent resident on the Rock, “Everything can be explained to the people, on the single condition that you want them to understand.” (Fanon) why how and when the state got captured by white monopoly capital and the enrichment schemes!

    The first dredging of the St. John’s harbour was undertaken by the Royal Navy in the 18th century to open a 17 ft channel in the Sand Bar placed there by nature to provide a beautiful and bountiful lagoon. Up until the late sixties the Harbour termed with fish and seafood of all varieties. In 1967 VC and the thirty Niners bent on development with no scientific guidance began dredging and building modern port infrastructure. That has continued without abatement and very little respect for environmental degradation! JF has for decades reminded anyone who would be interested to visit Venice and the Mose Project ($8 Billion to Build) virtually!

    Can anyone suggest that with all the work that has been done is being done and is expected to be done that a proper geotechnical mapping of the seabed complete with and abundance of boreholes has not been done is being done for the past and future Harbour Development as the Nation goes from entrepreneurial socialism to empowerment capitalism or did they forget that on the way to enrichment schemes!

    As the late Tim Hector would say of the Governments of his time: “Every Deal is a Scheme!”

    “The National bourgeoisie discovers it’s mission as intermediary. As, we have seen, it’s vocation is not to transform the nation but prosaic ally serve as a conveyor belt for capitalism, …. The National bourgeoisie, with no misgivings and with great pride, revels in its role of agent in its dealings with white monopoly capital. This lucrative role, this function as small time racketeer (enrichment schemer), this narrow mindedness and lack of ambition are symptomatic of the national bourgeoisie to fulfill its historic role as bourgeoisie. The dynamic pioneering aspect, the inventive, discoverer of new worlds aspect common to to every national bourgeoisie is here lamentably absent.” Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of The Earth!

    • So well said my brother. The sad part of this saga Is that well reasoned and effective analyses as yours will go unread and maybe not even understood by so many on this fair island.
      Unfortunately even some former revolutionaries have surrendered to the schemers and become one with them.

      • Well Mr. Juno Samuel JOHN FRENCH II analyses are not unread. I particularly like to read his comments especially since we are both fans of Franz Fanon and Molefi Kete Asante. In Antigua and Barbuda it is no so much the bourgeoisie that facilities the exploitation by monopoly capitalism (since the national bourgeoisie is almost nonexistent), but rather our so-called politicians that instead of working on behalf of the population become the the accomplices and tools for foreign investors.

    • So good to hear from you John French III. Hope all is well with you and yours.You were always a fan of Franz Fanon,the man from Martinique.

  3. How many times we going to hear this story because we heard this very same story last year.
    This very same story.
    Another way to shaft the people.
    ABLP IS SUCH A FAILED EXPERIMENT!

  4. Great article! In order for corruption to work the corrupter requires a corruptee. It is important to recognize in Antigua corruption is normalized and the leadership is set up, they then set up the next level and so it goes to those at its lowest level – the poor. That is the hands-on level whether you call any level bourgeois, they are corrupter or corruptee.

  5. Who are the owners of this bottomless pit of a Dredging Company. They are going to Dredge down until they would see Hell. When in fact Hell is right where they are Dredging. It can be seen with the naked eyes. Just another one of the enrichments schemes orchestrated and played in concert by those in high places. I have watched over many years of living in the USA. Where Politicians have been sent to Prisons in Massachusetts, Colorado,California, New Jersey,Ohio and Texas. I still waiting to see that happening in Antigua.

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