Construction on the New Pier at Heritage Quay is moving full speed ahead despite brief delays due to the coronavirus pandemic. The marine contractor leading the pier expansion, Meridian Construction Ltd. (Meridian), maintains that with the exception of the brief suspension of construction activity during the first ten days of the government curfew and a few manufacturer delays caused by COVID-19, the majority of the project components are on schedule. The construction team continues to work toward finalizing the pier in anticipation of the handover to Global Ports Holding.
David Corbella, Principal Marine Engineer at Global Ports Holding, provided an update regarding precautionary measures that have been undertaken to reduce the risk of community spread on the site. “As of March 31, apart from the dredging activities, the project was fully on schedule. After the government curfew was enacted, the team suspended construction for a few days and incorporated several precautionary measures. We established day and night shifts to reduce the number of people working on the site at any given time, in addition to establishing social distancing protocols. We have reduced the daytime crews to 50 people and the nighttime crew to 25 people at any given time. We have also added shifts to ensure that the project stays on schedule as much as possible.”
He noted that “As you can imagine, social distancing can be particularly difficult on a construction site where, for safety reasons, we prefer for team members not to work alone. As a result, we are monitoring the team’s activities very carefully for everyone’s protection.”
“We are also conducting temperature checks at the entrance to the site and have provided face masks to all crew members, who are always required to wear them,” he continued. “We have placed hand sanitizer dispensers at all workstations on the site. Every morning we host “Toolbox” meetings to review the precautionary measures and regulations, in addition to other site updates. COVID-19 has certainly presented a challenge for us, but thanks to strong collaborative efforts between Antigua Cruise Port, the Government of Antigua & Barbuda, the Port Authority, our GPH technical team, and Meridian, we are still making great progress.”
Mr. Corbella also provided an update regarding various components of the project. “The project is about 60 percent complete but considering the current situation, we expect a slight delay. We are working on various components simultaneously to expedite the process. The ship berthing area has been dredged to almost 50 percent of the depth required. This activity that was scheduled to be completed in mid-June but may be delayed by about one month.” Upon completion, the harbour will be dredged to a depth of 10.7 metres.
Dona Lisel Regis- Prosper, General Manager of Antigua Cruise Port, shared her excitement about the progress being made on the project. “The extent of the reach of COVID-19 and its impact on our society was certainly unforeseen and even unimaginable at one point. We are, however, making steady progress on the expansion of the port despite these challenges. We remain steadfast in our commitment to deliver significant economic benefits to Antigua & Barbuda and to create a stunning, world-class port facility that will be primed and ready to accommodate those Oasis-class ships and more as the industry begins to rebound.”