The lock-down in the past months as a result of the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in a delay of several months in the execution of the Saba harbor project, the Public Entity Saba announced on Thursday.
Because of the lock-down, established by local authorities to protect the people on this vulnerable island against the coronavirus, an important part of the preliminary research could not take place according to plan, because necessary experts from, among others, the Netherlands, Curaçao and Canada were unable to travel to Saba. Now that more travel options are possible worldwide, plans can be made for the last steps in the preparatory works.
Depending on developments surrounding the epidemic, the tender for the project will start early 2021, based on positive results from the studies in the Giles Quarter area, locally known as Black Rocks, the proposed location for the new harbor. The construction contract is scheduled to be signed in mid-2021.
The coming months will be marked by the completion of the research phase, development of partial designs and the tendering process. Construction of the harbor will take approximately two years. The project is therefore expected to be completed in 2023.
The environmental impact assessment and preliminary archaeological research have progressed at a steady pace in the past months. The environmental impact assessment has been almost completed and plans are currently being made with the Saba Conservation Foundation (SCF) to protect the rare corals in the work area.
A pilot for the relocation of coral is being planned and it is expected that there is sufficient local experience to be able to carry out at least part of the work with local parties, in particular with SCF. Archaeological research and on-site test excavations will commence shortly. The archaeologist’s visit is currently being prepared and will take place as soon as possible.
There are also plans to resume soil testing. Geotron, the specialist company from the Netherlands that carries out the soil investigation, plans to continue operations on Saba from the middle/end of August. In total, it will take about three weeks to collect the necessary data, if the weather conditions are good.
The results of the soil survey are required for the next step in the research process: the wave simulation test. When the soil investigation can proceed according to plan, it is expected that the wave simulation test can be started in the autumn of this year.
With the help of the local contractor Work Monster, local authorities are working on temporary access to the Black Rocks area. These works are well advanced and are expected to be ready for work traffic in the autumn.
The project involves the construction of a new, larger and more hurricane-proof harbor which will have a tremendous economic spin-off for the island and will give a boost to Saba’s overall development. The Dutch Government is financing this project for about US $30 million, with 15 million euros coming from the Hurricane Recovery Fund and 12.5 million euros from the Regional Envelope through the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (LNV). It is the largest project to ever be undertaken in Saba’s history.