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After a brief snag, work forges ahead on Antigua's new cruise pier

The new berth will be able to handle the world's largest cruise ships
Construction of the new cruise pier in St. John's, Antigua, is moving full speed ahead after brief delays due to the coronavirus pandemic.

According to Meridian Construction, the marine contractor leading the pier expansion, with the exception of the suspension of construction activity during the first 10 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.

One month dredging delay

The project is about 60% complete but a slight delay is anticipated. The ship berthing area has been dredged to almost 50% of the required depth.  This activity was scheduled to be completed in mid-June but may be delayed by about one month. On completion, the harbor will be dredged to a depth of 10.7 meters.

Antigua Cruise Port is being redeveloped through a 30-year lease agreement between the government of Antigua & Barbuda and Global Ports Holding. On completion, St. John's will have a new pier that can accommodate cruising's biggest ships, which will make it possible for the port to serve as many as 1m passengers per year, up from 800,000 now. The port will also have new retail and food and beverage facilities, plus an additional 50,000 square feet of commercial space to be leased to Antiguans and Barbudans.

Work commenced in October 2019.

'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,' said David Corbella, principal marine engineer, Global Ports Holding.

Work in shifts

Day and night shifts were established to reduce the number of people working on the site at any given time, and social distancing protocols were established. Daytime crews were reduced to 50 people and the nighttime crew to 25 people at any given time. Shifts were added to ensure the project stays on schedule as much as possible.

Corbella noted social distancing can be particularly difficult on a construction site where, for safety reasons, it is preferred team members do not work alone. 'As a result, we are monitoring the team’s activities very carefully for everyone’s protection,' he said.

Temperature checks are being conducted at the entrance to the site and face masks were provided to all crew members, who are required to wear them. Hand sanitizer dispensers are available at all workstations on the site. Each morning 'toolbox' meetings are held to review the precautionary measures and regulations, in addition to other site updates.

Collaborative effort

'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,' Corbella said.

'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, said Dona Lisel Regis-Prosper, general manager of Antigua Cruise Port.