Photo Credit: BVI Platinum News
As efforts are underway to commence the development of a new and permanent ferry terminal in West End, Premier and District One Representative, Hon. Andrew Fahie anticipates that there will be issues in relation to the private lands in the vicinity of the terminal.
This is due largely to the fact that the available space is very small in comparison to the conceptual designs recently made public, and the need for more space to provide for certain facilities such as parking.
Director of Planning at the Recovery and Development Agency—which is responsible for overseeing the development— Mr. Neil Smith recently told residents of West End and other stakeholders that based on the statement of requirements for the project, some 27,600 square foot would be needed.
However, when this is compared to the available space, he said, “You realise that we’ll need twice the space to do that. So already, we’re starting to consider a multi-level space.”
This, however, raised some concerns, as residents pointed out that if more space will be needed, then the private lands surrounding the ferry terminal may have to be encroached on.
“Does Government have access to the land in the vicinity of the West End port?” one man questioned.
Responding to such concerns, Premier Fahie—who has long been pushing for the development of a larger and permanent ferry terminal in West End—said, “Land issue is going to be a problem,” adding that he is not afraid to speak about the reality of the issues that will come with the project.
“And to get that solved, it won’t be solved overnight because according to the law, there’s a long process even if you want to compulsory acquire,” he added.
The Premier noted that acquiring lands cannot happen overnight, adding,”I’m not saying that it’s not an option to look at down the road, but you can’t say that until…because you didn’t negotiate with the families to say that they would or wouldn’t give up the land.”
He noted that when it comes to land in this country, it is not quite simple.
Even prior to taking office, Hon. Fahie has been an advocate for the development of the West End Ferry Terminal—even before the old facility was destroyed by the 2017 storms.
Prior to the former National Democratic Party (NDP) Government taking office, the previous Virgin Islands Party (VIP) administration had plans for a $43M facility. However, this budget was later slashed by the NDP to a mere $3 million.
After the hurricane, the need became even more evident as Hon. Fahie, who was Opposition Leader at the time, complained of the suffering that resulted from the closure of ferry services in West End.
Over the years, Hon. Fahie continued to stress on the need for the facility and since taking office as Premier, he said it is one of his priority projects.
Recently, he announced that a private donor is willing to fund over 50 percent of the cost of establishing a permanent ferry terminal, one that can facilitate 200,000 passengers and 20,000 vessels per year, and increase income.