Antigua and Barbuda Opens new US$100m Chinese funded port

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From Left To Right: Prime Minister Hon Gaston Browne. Her Excellency Ambassador Zhang Yanling. /Photo by Wayne Mariette

“Visionary” new Deepwater Harbour OECS’ first Transshipment Hub

Visionary.

This was the word used on Thursday throughout the opening ceremony of the redeveloped Deepwater Harbour to describe the monumental achievement of the Gaston Browne-led administration in modernising the country’s half-century-old main seaport.

First opened in 1968 under the leadership of Father of the Nation, Rt. Hon.
Sir Vere Cornwall Bird Sr., the Deepwater Harbour has served the country well.

Initially developed to facilitate the movement of cargo into the country, over the decades, and with the transition of the economy from agriculture to tourism, it also became the main entry point for tourists entering the country by sea.

As Antigua and Barbuda evolved, so too did its need for a port facility that would meet its new and expanding needs, but the prime minister of the day, Gaston Browne said he had a much larger vision for the harbour and its role in the economic development of the nation.

With the launch of the redeveloped Deepwater Harbour Port Facility on Thursday, Antigua and Barbuda claimed its place as the leading and most progressive nation in the OECS.

The modernised port now has the capacity to offer transshipment and centralised shipping services and is the largest cargo port in the OECS.

Speaking at the launch on Thursday, the prime minister also noted that the opening was possible because his government took bold action in reopening the country and restoring normalcy earlier than any other nation in the region.

“My cabinet took the strategic decision to continue the works to ensure that the two projects (the fifth berth and Deepwater Harbour) would have been completed within the timelines, and certainly, within budget.

And you will be pleased to know that there have been no
cost overruns.

“Already, I’m aware that several shipping lines have been negotiating with the management to provide logistics as well as transshipment services for the subregion and even beyond.

And we’re also holding discussions with other destinations to include Panama and even Guatemala to determine whether or not we could have some level of cooperation in order to enhance the level of transshipments that will take place here at our port facility,” said Browne,who has ministerial portfolio responsibility for ports.

The timing of the port’s relaunch is auspicious as already in 2022, revenue generated at the facility has surpassed its last successful pre-pandemic year.

In 2018, the port generated more than $40 million in revenue. At the end of October this year, the port had outdone itself, reporting $53 million in collected revenue.

It was noted that as the port does not itself offer a specific service beyond
the movement and handling of cargo, its financial success provides an accurate gauge of the health of the local economy, as its revenue is inexorably linked to the volume of business it conducts, in respect of imports and exports with the public.

The prime minister also noted while the impressive revenue turnover does not necessarily translate to large profits, the port has recovered from its formerly dire position of being unable to pay its employees on time to now being able to settle outstanding backpay and offer its staff a holiday bonus.

“The port management paid $3.8 million in back pay and they’re now poised
to make another payment of $1.2 million in the form of a bonus,” Browne said.

Meanwhile, addressing the gathering, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Antigua Barbuda Port Authority, Senator Mary Claire Hurst, said the occasion represented a particularly proud moment for her.

“My dad was the minister when the first port was commissioned and today I am honoured to be here as chairman of the Antigua [Barbuda] Port Authority.”

She continued, “The design of the port facility has enabled a remarkable
revolution in the quality of the port.

“These changes are manifested in the following areas: infrastructure, multipurpose berth, warehouse development, administrative building, marine operations, terminal operations, port services.”

Hurst also noted that the expanded and improved port will also foster many spin-off benefits for the country including increased economic activity and job creation.

Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China, Brian Stuart-Young, also offered remarks in which he underscored the careful thought and negotiation that went into the planning of the port.

“It took the Ministry of Finance, the port leadership and accountants and my office many, many months of negotiations with China’s Ex-Im Bank to arrive at a workable funding arrangement.

“Nobody tried to offer us this facility; we had to work for it. “I remember submitting and having it rejected and going back to the table and working again and resubmitting.

“Indeed, the loan was originally considered to be for both the commercial side…and the cruise tourism services, but it was the prudent decision of Prime Minister Browne that it should be reduced to only the commercial side of the port.

He was not inclined to take on the larger debt and was of the view that government would seek alternative arrangements for cruise tourism.”

The port project was completed with the support of the government of the People’s Republic of China and was financed through a concessionary 2 percent loan made available from The Export-Import Bank of China.

It was constructed by China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation which has been in operation in Antigua and Barbuda for 18 years and is behind other major development projects including the new terminal at the V. C.

Bird International Airport and Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Stadium.

SOURCE: POINTE XPRESS

 

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9 COMMENTS

    • @ Diamond

      another project conceived and planned by the UPP

  1. Jumbee_Picknee says…

    The Art of War is shadowed by, The Art of Deception.

    Please be sure not to default on #The Loan.

    #Triad_Connections
    #Trojan_Horses

    Rise, rise be wise and open your eyes, in order not to be hit like a #CATEGORY SIX(6) Hurricane and be surprised by it #forces of destruction.

  2. Antigua and Barbuda will never get out of debt with the people’s Republic of China,these leaders are micos in a suit and tie

    • But you’re OK with Harold Lovell borrowing 320 million dollars from the IMF and You still don’t know where it went- remember although Gaston Browne’s administration never spent a cent of the 320million Gaston Browne as Finance Minister had to pay it all off.
      Now this will benefit you and your children and listen to the cries….. utter shame

      • @ Iman
        You know that Harold didn’t thief the money but pumped it into the economy. You just deceitful and lie. When you borrow at 8% to pay off 1%, a wan idiot you be. Wait and see if Gaston doesn’t go to IMF if re-elected. Listen to him closely, he is hinting at it. The country broke. He just waiting until after the election.

      • @ Iman

        you are such an idiot

        It was the funds left by the UPP at Medical Benefits that paid off the IMF……..how stupid can you labour party supporters be?
        u swallow everything bait, line and sinker from Gaston.

    • Do think the USA will ever get out of Chinese debt!?
      Their debt to China is in the trillions of dollars
      Nothing wrong with having debt, once it is sustainable.
      You will always have to borrow for development projects. China offers us the best terms and conditions. 2% and 3-to-5-year moratorium. Cannot get better

      • @From The Sideline. Since you apparently seem to think that Antigua cannot do better than apparent sub standard projects with debt trap and overpriced loans from communist China, enquiring mind/s would like to know which part of the Harbour really costs US$97million…can’t be the slave labour commonly used by the Chinese on these projects?
        Refusing to recognize, which amounts to condoning, this type of project labour absolutely makes a mockery of complaining about African slavery that took place 4 hundred years ago. Hard to know exactly how abusively these Asian workers are treated but they certainly do not appear to be living very happy lives!
        So, since we can discount the “labour” costs please be explicit on what exactly costs US$97million for the Deep Water Harbour project?
        If Antigua could clean up the corruption and present an exemplary reputation to the outside world I really don’t think we would have to be subjecting ourselves to Chinese control with this woman announcing on ABS TV that (in her opinion) China owns Democratic and free Taiwan!! If we continue in the present manner she will be announcing on Chinese run ABS that China owns Antigua and Barbuda!
        WAKE UP ANTIGUA.

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