St. John’s port upgrades to start in two weeks – PM Browne

Prime Minister of Antigua & Barbuda Gaston Browne (courtesy ABLP)

The U.S. $90 million St. John’s port modernisation project is scheduled to begin on January 15, said Prime Minister Gaston Browne in his New Year’s Day Address. “This project will be the single largest public sector investment undertaken by any government, past or present, and will facilitate the transformation of the facility into a regional transshipment port.

“A further $80 million will be invested in 2018 to construct a fifth tourism birth at Point Wharf to accommodate the Oasis Class ships in time for the next cruise tourism season,” the PM stated. China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) was selected in December 2014 to redevelop the St. John’s coastline, including the cargo port and the cruise ship harbour.

Browne added that the government will also introduce a new entrepreneurial development programme “in a matter of weeks.” “This will be funded by a new telecoms tax on incoming international calls, payable by the overseas entity,” he said, adding that, “This initiative will have no impact on domestic telecoms pricing.” The majority of the Antigua and Barbuda leader’s “State of the Nation” address was dedicated to highlighting his government’s accomplishments in the three-and-ahalf years it has been in office, and deriding his predecessors.

Speculation is rampant that the general election, constitutionally due next year, will be called early. Browne has stoked that belief with his frequent utterances that the polls will come “like a thief in the night.” And, in referring to Barbuda, which is still in the throes of recovery after September’s hurricane devastation, Browne said that he will propose that the rebuilt government pre-school on the island be named after two-year-old Carl Francis Jr., the lone fatality during Hurricane Irma.

“He will live-on in all those children who graduate from that school, dedicated to his remembrance.”

(More in today’s Daily Observer)