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Antigua to dredge harbour for cruise lines

ST JOHN’S — The preliminary steps of dredging St. John’s Harbour will begin early next year, following calls from cruise lines.

Chairman of the St John’s Development Corporation Sylvester Browne said Cabinet has approved the sweeping and cleaning of the harbour to commence at the end of the winter cruise season in early 2013.

“It cannot be done before the season here; but right after the season dies out, they can start the job,” Browne said.

“Cabinet has located the source that can do the job at a cost that they can afford.”

Browne reports that the removal of silt and sludge from the harbour will cost the government in the range of US $8 or $9 million. The chairman said he could not comment on details of where the funding would be coming from, but insisted that dredging is of the highest priority.

In recent talks with cruise lines at two regional conferences in Miami and Curacao, Browne reported that the dredging of the harbour is one of their primary concerns.

“You have to pay attention to that harbour because there is concern among all the ship owners. It needs to be swept or dredged,” Browne said cruise operators told him.

Last Thursday, head of the Antigua & Barbuda Cruise Tourism Association Nathan Dundas said cruise operators have told him the same thing. Cruise ships, he said, have outgrown the infrastructure of the St John’s waterfront area.

“Twenty years ago, Heritage Quay was a great idea, Heritage Quay was a great vision,” he said.

“We need to build on that foundation. If we want to remain competitive, we have to up the ante.”

The cruise representative said the St John’s Harbour needs to be at least 11.5 metres deep in order for cruise lines to feel safe sending their larger ships here. (Antigua Observer)

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