By Orville Williams
Just two weeks after collapsing and throwing fisherfolk into the water, the Keeling Point Pier is almost complete and ready to resume operations.
On Thursday, August 20, the dilapidated structure that stood before caved in, throwing a group of fisherfolk and their recent catch into the water. Though there were no reports of serious injuries, the incident justified prior calls from some fisherfolk and one vocal community activist – Richard Lewis – for urgent restoration of the pier.
Lewis, who is also a Senate Minority Leader, stated publicly that he had written to the Permanent Secretary of the Agriculture and Fisheries Ministry, along with the Chief Fisheries Officer earlier this year, calling on them to facilitate repairs to the pier.
He noted that Prime Minister Gaston Browne promised repairs would take place, but that did not happen for several months, leading up to the structure’s collapse.
However, speaking on the matter after the collapse, Browne said a decision had been taken to repair the pier, but the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic delayed the start of that work. He then assured the work would commence shortly.
This week, Observer visited the Keeling Point site and spoke with a member of Meridian Construction Company – that was tasked with the repairs – who explained that despite some challenges, the work should be completed in a matter of days.
“Hopefully, before Friday, because what we’re doing now, we’re just putting in the technical part of it, which is cutting it around the posts.
“So far, the work has been a little extensive. [It’s been] rough, tough, but now we’re at the end and hopefully in the next couple of days we’ll finally have a – [I’d] say a brand-new dock – but a better one,” the construction worker explained.
He also spoke on some of the challenges that the team faced in attempting to get vital parts of the work done.
“When you’re on the water and you have to put down the 3 x 10 in the water and when you’re especially going to the east, you have the waves, the current coming back to you.
“On the water with [the] dinghy, it is not easy to push with manpower plus [the impact of] the wind. So, we’re going against the wind and we have to fight, and when we get around the corner it’s still pushing you around, so we have to fight against the water [and] the wind in order to get our work done”, he said.
The completion of the work will come as welcome news to the fisherfolk, who have long been struggling with the condition of the pier, and as the construction worker added, this new structure should give them some satisfaction.
“Well, [the fishermen] are happy. At least, what was there before is not what they’re getting back. [It’s] a different dock and a better one that they can actually stand on,” he added.
Along with the reconstruction of the pier, plans are also reportedly underway to construct a seafood eatery in the vicinity. There has been no word yet, though, on any timelines for that development.