Knops positive about Saba harbour project

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.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte (right) and Saba Com­missioner Bruce Zagers (left) at the Fort Bay Harbour two weeks ago. In the back, at right, is State Secretary of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops. (Photo by Alida Francis/RCN)

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.

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