Dutch State Secretary of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops received an update on the Fort Bay Harbor project on Monday, January 7. The Dutch delegation also visited the harbor where Commissioner Bruce Zagers provided additional information. The State Secretary said he was impressed with the progress that has been made with the preparations for the harbor project.
The harbor renovation project which is in the stage of preparation and is by far the largest project ever, both financially and in size, explained Commissioner Zagers during a meeting at the Government Administration Building. The project is fundamental to further Saba’s development. “Once the construction is completed, Saba will have a real harbor that can accommodate larger and more vessels. We are going to build back bigger and better,” said Zagers.
Project manager harbor Ton van der Plas gave a presentation about the harbor renovation project. He explained that the current harbor, since its construction in the 1970’ies has undergone several upgrades and repairs. The harbor was heavily damaged by hurricanes Irma and Maria in September 2017. Despite, the immediate repairs that took place in October 2017, the harbor remains very sensitive to waves. The existing situation offers little protection against waves.
With 15 million euros from the Recovery Fund that the Dutch Government made available for Saba after the hurricanes, 12.5 million from the Regional Envelope of the Dutch Government, the Public Entity Saba is moving ahead with the project to construct extend the big pier and to build a new bigger pier on the location of the current small pier.
With the assistance of engineering firm Witteveen + Bos, different designs were looked at and several alternatives were studied. The wave conditions and soil conditions were researched. Work has now started on the final design which will most likely use a “caisson type” for the breakwater, which requires no pile driving. After the tendering and final preparations, actual construction is planned for the 4th quarter of 2019.
The final result will be a sheltered harbor basin which will be able to accommodate more and also larger vessels. Traffic at the harbor will be separated which benefit the overall logistics at the harbor. With a new harbor, Saba will be able to attract more yachts and able to expand commercial activities. Mooring multiple vessels at the same quay will become a possibility on some locations which will allow for a more flexible use of the harbor. The new, expanded harbor will provide the opportunity for Saba to tap into the huge yachting potential in the region.
Commissioner Zagers explained that by making the big pier longer, the opportunity will be created to accommodate larger cargo ships to come in. Currently, the smaller cargo ships sometimes have to make several trips to bring goods to Saba which means higher transportation costs.
State Secretary Knops said he was impressed by the harbor project and the preparatory work that has been done so far. “I am impressed by what this project can bring for Saba’s development. The harbor suffered great damage in the hurricanes. It is important to invest in it because it is Saba’s lifeline. If larger cargo ships can moor, the transportation costs can go down, which is good for the Saba people.”
After the presentation, the delegation went to the harbor where Commissioner Zagers provided more details on the project and the current harbor operations. They also visited the renovated harbor office which became operational early December. The renovated harbor office is a big improvement: visitors arriving by boat are no longer exposed to the elements.
Following the visit to the harbor, the delegation took to the recycling building at the landfill for an update on the developments in that area. The front and back of the recycling building, which were damaged by the hurricanes, are currently being closed off. The new incineration equipment should be arriving shortly. The new air burner will produce considerably less smoke and will enable safer working conditions at the landfill.