Seabridge Ferry Operation On The Rocks?

Seabridge Ferry Unloading Cars At Majors Bay - St. Kitts

Seabridge Ferry At Major’s Bay – St. Kitts

St. Kitts – Nevis
May 31, 2009
Lorna Callender

Who stands up to defend locals and the services they provide?  We have in our midst locals who are rendering pioneering service to our country and instead of “bigging them up” and holding them up as examples of how self-sufficient we can get in working for our country, we cast them off, offer them no concessions and even allow foreign investors to trample all over them.

The Seabridge Ferry is the last of a growing list of examples. We can recall the treatment meted out to Captain Prince when he introduced his cutting edge vessel ““ Caribsurf  – and upgraded the quality of travel between our twin islands. He had a difficult time getting approval to run his boat. We recall the pioneering efforts of Mrs. Pat Richards-Leader in starting the Grange Health Care Facility.  She could get no concessions, not even during our regular electricity outages, when she sought to import a generator to preserve the medication of our senior citizens.  We think of Sir Probyn Inniss who at his own expense made his historical research available in historical booklets to educate nationals about themselves. Now he is persona non grata when it comes to speaking at our Secondary Institutions.  The list goes on.  Mr. Warrington Grant, pioneer farmer, who introduced successful dairy farming in this country. He is ridiculed on Labour’s political platforms and told he is no farmer.

Now the Seabridge Ferry, our highway on the seas, the economic link between our twin federal states, is being threatened with relocation.  Why?  Because foreign investors must be allowed “to do whatever they like”, take the choicest of our options, while locals must be left to gather the crumbs from under the table!

From our observation, we note that the Seabridge is located at the end of a public road to Majors Bay; that the beach is supposed to be free for local use; that the Seabridge is strategically located to link the nearest points between the two islands thus making it more economical for locals to use.  The immense success of the Seabridge indicates that it is filling a great need and great praise must go to Mr. Rawlinson Isaac and his Board for persevering and overcoming all of the obstacles which threatened to stall this project.

How then can SEP investors state that they have to remove this highly essential service belatedly granted to locals and tourists alike? That it is not in keeping with their design for Christophe Harbour? To boost their claim they point to a Development Agreement signed on to by our Government that gives them all of these “rights”.

In a document entitled “Christophe Harbour Strategic Environmental Assessment” which refers to a Development Agreement signed with the St. Kitts Government, is a section called

Preparatory Works: Implementation of the Master Plan will involve the following major preparatory works:

  1. Dredging and Beach Nourishment
  2. Rehabilitation of Major’s Bay Salt Pond
  3. Rehabilitation of Great Salt Pond
  4. Removal of an existing jetty (ferry terminal) and cargo barge at Major’s Bay
  5. Vegetation clearance and earthworks; and Demolition.

It further states that the development agreement for the creation of the resort district was signed in June 2007 and the major preparatory works must be completed by 2010.

Later the document states: “pier at the eastern end of Major’s Bay: according to the development agreement, this structure shall be removed “to a location mutually acceptable to the government and the joint venture” within 12 months of commencement of construction of the second hotel in the resort.  Therefore, this structure will also be included in the demolition plan.  Concrete and stone from the structure will be re-used elsewhere as fill or, if suitable, for the reconstruction of the pier at another location.”

We ask again: who stands up to defend locals and the services they provide?   Here is a pioneering essential service made available by local investors to our local economy, and the government is just signing away their rights and the public facility for some long term anticipated “pie in the sky”.  Why wasn’t the Christophe Harbour investors told that they had to fashion their development around our essential economic highway?

Must we always bow and grovel to any foreign investor?   What did we gain from Allen Stanford’s investment at the airport?  When the prime minister shouts in a press conference “I shall never sell out this country” we can never believe him when we read of the major concessions granted to Christophe Harbour investors and compare them to the minimal attention being paid to the Seabridge investors?

We shall examine this in part ii of this article.  What is clear is that we ought never to concede to having Seabridge and its important services removed.

Never ever!  We must demand our rights of passage.

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