The preparations for Saba’s Fort Bay Harbour multimillion-dollar project have received praise from Dutch State Secretary of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops after his two visits to Saba in May.
The state secretary mentioned the extensive project which is in the planning phase during a recent debate with the Permanent Committee for Kingdom Relations of the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament.
“I am charmed by the vigour of the Saba government in making preparations for this large project. There is a solid plan for the upgrading and extension of the harbour,” said Knops, who announced that funds from the Reconstruction Fund for Saba would be combined with funds from the so-called Regional Envelope to finance this project.
The state secretary said that the funds were released under the condition that good governance was in place, and that is the case on Saba. A harbour renovation project will also be undertaken in St. Eustatius where a temporary government is in place that has been instated by the Netherlands.
The harbours of Saba and St. Eustatius have suffered extensive damage as a result of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Knops said that some larger ships can no longer moor due to the damage. The harbours are of vital importance to the islands’ economies, he explained.
Designing and constructing the harbour in such a way that they are hurricane-proof is quite a challenge and complicated task, said Knops. This also has to do with the conditions of the sea and the seabed. “It costs a lot of money to make the harbours hurricane-proof. This is a job that you can’t permit yourself to do only halfway.”
With the renovation of the harbour, Saba aims to create a larger usable area in the harbour basin. The Fort Bay Harbour has not undergone significant developments since it was built in the ’70s. An opportunity arose now to make major improvements.
The new harbour should enable a separation of large (cargo) traffic and other activities, like fishing, ferries, dive boats and pleasure boats, thereby improving port safety and ensuring safe mooring of smaller boats.
By creating a separate space for smaller boats, more opportunities are also created for larger boats at the current cargo pier, making Saba much more accessible for yachts, Saba Commissioner Bruce Zagers, in charge of Public Works and the Harbour. explained to The Daily Herald.
In the preparatory phase of this project, Saba is assisted by the Dutch engineering firm Witteveen+Bos (W+B). This particular company has been involved in a post-hurricane renovation of Fort Bay Harbour in the past and therefore knows the harbour and the area very well. Currently, plans are made for a subsoil investigation to determine the options for the construction of a breakwater.
While preparing for this large harbour project, Saba is also developing plans to make the harbour more attractive and improve facilities for daily users and visitors. A more attractive harbour generates more tourism traffic, which in turn will lead to more economic activities that can benefit the entire island. During the meeting with the Parliament on May 17, the state secretary also addressed the developments in the area of sustainable energy on Saba and St.Eustatius, in particular the solar parks that have been built. He deemed these developments very positive. “That makes me happy,” he said.
St. Eustatius is already self-reliant where it pertains to the generating of electricity through solar panels. Saba is almost self-reliant, he said. In this manner the islands avoid having to import expensive diesel to generate electricity, which drives up the electricity prices. Rainwater is also collected via the solar panels.
The Daily Herald.