While preparatory work for the new harbor project at Black Rocks continues, it was announced that the first phase of upgrading the existing Fort Bay harbor will start in January 2023.
Once the new harbor at Black Rocks is constructed, the Fort Bay harbor will remain in use as a port for cargo. Part of the overall harbor project is the upgrading and repairing of the existing port facilities at Fort Bay, of which the first phase has been locally tendered.
As part of the work, the main pier will be repaired, whereby the uppermost layer will be renewed and new bollards will be placed. The top layer of the pier has some minor damage in a few places. Also, there will be repairs to the head of the pier and to the Roll on-Roll off (RoRo) pier. The repair works will be planned in such a way that the cargo ships and the ferry can still make use of the pier.
Works are planned to only start in January as there are plans for the celebration of the 50th anniversary on November 6th, as well as the yearly Saba Day activities that take place in the harbor. Additionally, to avoid any delays with the construction, it was decided to only start once the materials, such as the bollards, are on island. The harbor stakeholders will be consulted well in advance to ensure the proper usage of the harbor during the execution of the works.
Preparing the construction of a new harbor is a lengthy, highly complicated and challenging affair. This is especially true for Saba where the geophysical circumstances are challenging, the limitations of a very small island play a major role, and hurricane seasons have to be taken into consideration.
The reference design for the new harbor is in the last phase.
The reference design is the one after the preliminary design and comes before the final design, which is commonly drafted by the contractor. The reference design is needed for the public tendering of the project and is tailor-made, and adapted for the complex local situation.
This situation is made further complicated by the sea swells and the fact that Saba is located in the hurricane belt explained harbor project manager Mario Prak. The swells make it harder to construct the maritime part of the new harbor which has an effect on the workability to place the caissons.
There is a lot of excitement and anticipation for when the construction of the new harbor will actually start, stated Commissioner Bruce Zagers. “Although I share these seem feelings, it is important that the necessary planning is done. This will take time. We will only have one opportunity to build this new harbor, so it is of utmost importance that all the precautions are taken and that we do it right the first time. There is a lot that is happening behind the scenes, while the planned projects at Fort Bay are getting ready to start, preparations to install the utilities to the new harbor area should also gain momentum in the coming months,” said Zagers.
With no local, specialized heavy construction material available, everything will have to be brought to Saba, and this requires careful planning. The project requires a completely new infrastructure in a location where there was nothing before. “This is what we call a Greenfield project, a completely new project where you start from scratch,” said project manager Prak.
The project team is currently working on providing additional information for the building permit request which was submitted to the Netherlands a few months ago. This month, Witteveen en Bos together with the team will start writing the tender documents and to further work out the design of the infrastructure on the land part of the harbor project. This includes developing a solid drainage system whereby rainwater is absorbed by the soil on land as much as possible, preventing it from running into the sea.
Also, the leveling of the terrain, as well as the road, utilities, and underground infrastructure have to be planned. The terrain needs to be leveled and prepared before the maritime part of the project can start. The project will make use of local contractors where possible.