ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Talks have begun to allow Barbuda to operate its own port of entry for the first time – via the sea.
That is according to Barbuda Member of Parliament (MP) Trevor Walker, who is the minister responsible for the Antigua & Barbuda Port Authority.
Walker said the port of entry would be established after the construction of a new EC $2.9 million dock.
“We have already started negotiations with the government to ensure that we have Customs and Immigration available to us in Barbuda to allow for operation of our port of entry,” he added.
The minister of public works and transport said the government has expressed its willingness to allow Barbuda to operate its own port of entry once the physical requirements are in place.
Walker said Finance Minister Harold Lovell has given his support “once the necessary things are put in place.”
The Barbuda MP also said he believes there won’t be a need to bring in Antiguans to operate the facility.
“Barbuda has people, we have the capacity, we can be trained,” said Walker.
Construction, set to begin next week, will take five to six months, according to Walker.
“Instead of a wooden structure we are going to put in a concrete structure,” said Walker, who added, “We are also going to construct a bridge to allow the water and currents to flow back and forth so that we can stop the erosion of the beach.”
Meanwhile, Walker explained that the cash-strapped port authority does not have to begin paying back the multi-million dollar loan for the new port before September.
“We were able to negotiate an interest rate of about eight and a half per cent loan runs over a period of nine years,” said Walker, adding “we were also able to negotiate a moratorium on the loan so we won’t be paying anything back until September.”