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Work starts on $3 m. port

St. John’s — The deputy chairman of the Barbuda Council has said that funding and construction agreements are now in place for a multi-million dollar port on the sister isle.

Fabian Jones said Finance & Development Company Limited, a Hadeed family-owned company, has agreed a $2.9 million loan for the project. The Port Authority is the borrower.

The news comes just four weeks after Barbuda Express chiefs threatened to pull the plug on ferry services amid major concerns over the port’s dilapidated state.

While not saying which firm will build the facility, Jones said work has already begun.

“As far as I’m aware, they are building some piles in Antigua, which will be shipped over to Barbuda to start the actual groundwork. In fact, as far as I’m aware by some time next week, there should be some movement of equipment and material coming to Barbuda to start the work,” he said.

The development is significant as Barbudans have long pressed central government for a port, complaining that not having one has made everything in Barbuda more expensive than on mainland Antigua.

The main call, though, has been for Barbuda to have its own port of entry, meaning that goods and tourists would not first have to land in Antigua before transferring to Barbuda.

An example of the complaint was highlighted in 2009 when the Daily OBSERVER ran a story showing that a 20lb cylinder of cooking gas, which retailed in Antigua for $32, was more than 40 per cent higher at $42 in Barbuda.

Last December a Prices and Consumer Affairs Division survey of 36 items which are price-controlled revealed that items in some supermarkets on Barbuda were 15 to 20 per cent higher than those sold in Antigua. It also costs hundreds of dollars for people to travel between Antigua and Barbuda.

Jones didn’t say whether the proposed facility would be made a port of entry. (Antigua Observer)

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