The Bottom/The Hague- The Government of Saba, in consultation with the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management (I&W), has decided to further explore the alternative location for the current harbor in the Giles Quarter area.
Commissioner Bruce Zagers, Island Secretary Tim Muller, policy advisor Sarah van der Horn-Plante and harbor project manager Ton van der Plas met with Director Maritime Affairs Brigit Gijsbers and policy advisor Léon van der Meij, both of the Ministry of I&W, in The Hague on Wednesday, October 2.
At that meeting, the Saba delegation presented the results of testing under the former plan to expand and renovate the Fort Bay Harbor, as well as the revised plan and the information that has been gathered so far on the alternative harbor location in the Giles Quarter area, often locally referred to as Black Rocks.
Commissioner Zagers said the information was well-received by the Ministry. “We have been given permission to continue researching the construction of the new harbor at the alternative location instead of continuing with our old plan at Fort Bay,” he said.
Additional work that will now be carried out includes an environmental impact study, a geological survey of the underwater soil and a wave test. When that has been concluded, the process can start to secure the necessary permits from Rijkswaterstaat.
Giving some background information as to the reasons for switching location, the Commissioner explained that starting the project at the Fort Bay Harbor was only logical because all facilities are located there. Also, the funds provided by the Dutch Government were originally intended for the reconstruction of the Fort Bay Harbor to a more future- and hurricane-proof harbor.
“So, we had to start testing at that location. Once the test results showed that Fort Bay might not be the most suitable location for a hurricane-proof harbor, we decided, in consultation with the Ministry of I&W, to start tests at the alternative location. Based on the results of the additional testing at the new location, we will decide what kind of breakwater we will use and how big it needs to be to fit in our future (economic) plans,” said Zagers.
The on-land infrastructure, the connecting road from Fort Bay, is included in the revised plan. Not included in this project is the desire of the government to construct a secondary road to the harbor via Giles Quarter. “We hope that in the future that can also be part of a larger harbor project,” said Zagers.
As for the costs associated with the alternative location, the Commissioner clarified that because of the lay-out of the property and the shallower waters, he hopes to achieve an even larger harbor than originally designed, and more hurricane-proof, with the same budget, which amounts to about US $30 million, paid for by the Dutch Government.
Largest project ever
Of this amount, 15 million euros comes 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 concerns the largest ever project in Saba’s history. It will have a tremendous economic spin-off for the island and will give a boost to Saba’s overall development. The idea is to keep the current Fort Bay Harbor for the more industrious and commercial traffic.
The Commissioner said he was “very happy” with the results of Wednesday’s meeting in The Hague. “It shows the Ministry of I&W is very open to our view, our way of working by wanting to do it right the first time. We have one chance to build a great new harbor and it has to be done in the correct manner,” Zagers, who thanked the Ministry for its support and the “very motivating” harbor project team for all its hard work.