Port contracts under review
The Barbados Port Inc. (BPI) is on the verge of electing a new board, and several multimillion-dollar contracts for work at the Bridgetown Port will remain under review.
Though the Government promises the examination won’t be a “witch-hunt”, Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy Kirk Humphrey said it was necessary to ensure the interests of Barbadians were being protected.
Humphrey’s comments came yesterday at Shed Four of the Bridgetown Port after he completed a tour of the Port, along with numerous officials including BPI’s chief executive officer (CEO) David Jean-Marie.
One of the contracts, which he said was worth close to $60 million, involves a company, Berth 5 Project Limited, and the other with Global Ports Holding Plc (Global Ports) for the extension of Berth 6 is worth $190 million.
“We’re in the process now of creating the new board for the port and that should be done this week, by latest next week.
“It’s not our intention to have a witch-hunt on anybody but as a Government you want to review those contracts, especially where those contracts are so significant . . . we just want to make sure at the end of the day Barbadians benefit from it,” Humphrey said.
This contract issue was first highlighted by Prime Minister Mia Mottley, who questioned the last administration’s motives in relation to these contracts and asked Attorney General Dale Marshall to look into them.
However, in a subsequent response, the Democratic Labour Party defended its positions.
The former governing party said that under the arrangement with Global Ports, Barbados was obtaining an immediate loan of US$110 million without the need for a sovereign guarantee or reliance on central government funding.
Global Ports was given a 30-year concession for berth 6, whereby a concession fee of US$34 million is paid to BPI upfront, and during the course of the concession agreement, there would be revenue sharing. The loan would facilitate the construction of the 1 200 feet of additional berthing capacity to expand its cruise and growing trans-shipment business.
During his port visit Humphrey also viewed the staff gym, numerous sheds and the proposed Berth 6. He praised the port for its efficiency.
The BPI’s CEO made it clear, however, that no construction had started and the matters were on hold.
He spoke about the organisation’s great relationship with Barbados Workers’ Union, and boasted of its modern equipment. He said he was looking forward to working with the new minister and board.
This tour preceded Humphrey’s visit to the nearby Bridgetown Fisheries Complex to familiarise himself with the issues there. (TG)