by Curlan Campbell, NOW Grenada
- Port of Tyrell Bay in Carriacou commissioned
- State-of-the-art port facility can accommodate berthing of a regional ferry carrier
- Welcome centre can handle passengers from international and regional ferry services
A $7.3 million investment to upgrade the Port of Tyrell Bay in Carriacou has been hailed as the launching pad for an increased economic activity and ease of travel for people on the island.
China-based Gensu Engineering and Construction Company on Thursday handed over the keys to General Manager of the Grenada Ports Authority, Carlyle Felix, during the official commissioning of the new state-of-the-art port facility with larger storage space for cargo. Located adjacent to the Tyrell Bay Marina, the Tyrell Bay Port Facility will replace the old port facility situated at Hillsborough.
Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell participated in the ribbon cutting and plaque unveiling ceremony which was also attended by Minister for Minister for Carriacou and Petite Martinique Affairs, Honourable Kindra Mathurine-Stewart.
Construction started in January 2017, and at the sod turning ceremony on 19 January 2017, it was promised that by December of that year the facility will be handed over. However, that target date was not achieved due to additional changes made to the original design of the facility.
Felix listed some new features added to the original design. “Some noteworthy changes were additional security lighting, CCTV system, the paving of the yard, the painting of the perimeter fencing, the construction of an emergency exit gate and wheelchair ramps.”
One of the major changes was the construction of a new welcome centre located at the southern end of the facility, for passengers entering and exiting the facility. Felix said, “It was changed from a local/domestic passenger terminal only, to one that is now designed to handle passengers from international and regional ferry services.”
Although the region doesn’t have a serious ferry operating service, Felix says they were encouraged to put necessary facilities in place to accommodate the berthing of a regional ferry carrier. “It was a leap of faith especially since our friends at the world bank under the OECS tourism and competitive project and based on studies conducted have encouraged us as well as a number of other OECS countries to pursue that path. The good news is there is absolutely no concern about the use of the domestic section of the welcome centre, and therefore we at the Grenada Ports Authority are very happy that at long last we are able to provide [people] travelling between Grenada and Carriacou with all the basic amenities that travelling people deserve.”
Minister Mathurine-Stewart said the design of the new port facility took into consideration Carriacou’s developmental needs. “With this facility, we expect to see a significant improvement in the service to port users, a reduction in cargo dwell time and improvement in vessel turnaround time. This facility will not only ease the burden of transacting business, but it will also allow for the increase in the volume of business we see here…I am very confident that these facilities will open up opportunities for our people with larger ships berthing here at times. These facilities I am advised are now the envy of our neighbours and will certainly set the standards for ports in Grenadines.”
Dr Mitchell promised that this is just the beginning of new developments to take place on the island as not only has the government received word that Carnival cruise line would be extending cruise calls to Carriacou. He said added to that government is also eyeing the construction of a new airport at Dumfries in Carriacou to accommodate the ease of travel for potential investors.
“It was only last week Carnival cruise line’s Chief Executive officer and the entire team from the board of directors visited with the government and made the point that they will be extending further cruises for Carriacou and Petite Martinique. We are now looking seriously in fact plans are already on foot for extension of the runway in Carriacou because as you have further development you need air transport so small jets should be able to land here because investors will come, and many investors would not want to wait 2 hours to get to Carriacou with a boat and they may not necessarily like little plane. Therefore plans are being made with the Chinese company to look into the designs to increase that runway facility to provide an opportunity for small jets to land.”
He added that government will be pursuing plans to construct a new airport. “The final plan will be to create a new airport and that, of course, has been identified in the Dumfries area and that will take a lot more resources.”
Dr Mitchell indicated that plans are in motion to establish berthing facilities in the north of Grenada where construction of the breakwater project is currently underway. This he said would link both islands and promote further ease of travel. “Now we are looking at the facility in Sauteurs, the breakwater project with a marina services coming there. It seems to me a lot of people who want to go from Carriacou to Grenada and may want to go to the northern part of the country would not want to travel right down to St George’s, so there will be an opportunity for the facility in Sauteurs to link with the facility in Carriacou.”
Despite the official commissioning of the port in Tyrell Bay, it will take another 2 weeks to properly outfit the facility to get it operational. Meanwhile, the Hillsborough facility will still be utilised for the berthing of small fishing vessels.
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