By YOURI KEMP
Tribune Business Reporter
Nassau Cruise Port is poised to begin the expansion of key vessel berths as it revealed yesterday that demolition of the former Festival Place welcome centre is now 90 percent complete.
Lionel Turnquest, its director of projects and facilities, said the $200m-plus construction work to transform Prince George Wharf was starting to pick-up speed with the project's "superstructures" set to start emerging from the ground in 2021.
“During the [COVID-19] lockdown period we have started demolition of the various buildings to advance the works as quickly as possible," Mr Turnquest said. "So we can add to it the demolition of the Customs warehouse, or the old Customs warehouse as it was referred to, and we have now moved into the demolition of Festival Place, which is about 90 percent complete.
"Then we're moving slowly on to complete the rest of the demolition throughout the rest of this year, early next year. The contractor’s team is fully mobilised and on site, getting the area ready. They've already started receiving piles, started piling their piles and getting prepared for the construction. If you are able to pass by the port you will also see that all of their barges, trucks, cranes etc are on Island and ready to go.”
Mr Turnquest said the concrete piling represented the start of Nassau Cruise Port's marine-side construction, which focuses on the extension, strengthening and redevelopment of several cruise ship berths.
"In February of next year, you will start seeing superstructures going up, and obviously the infrastructure as well," he added. "Once you start to see things happen above ground, I think the excitement will start to build even further.
"Once we start the upland works, you will also see a lot of traffic management requirements. They'll be implemented throughout the streets, but even more so there will be traffic adjustments for persons moving in and about around the port area.”
Michael Maura, Nassau Cruise Port's chief executive, added: “It is going to be exciting to begin to see the piles being driven to create a new Oasis-class [cruise ship] berth. It's going to be exciting to see the sheet pile coming together.
"It's going to be exciting to see the sheet pile being driven to the west end of what's called berth 16 to create additional commercial space for authentically Bahamian experiences - arts, music, food. All these are exciting things. And so this construction activity. It's been anticipated, it's exciting, and we can't wait to get going.
Mr Maura said Nassau Cruise Port will provide temporary facilities for the Port Department to operate from before it demolishes the building that presently houses the agency.
"Persons that are working from within the Port Department should be assured that, obviously, their building is not going to come down until they have a temporary home," he added.
Mehmet Kutman, chairman of Global Ports Holdings (GPH), Nassau Cruise Port's 49 percent controlling shareholder, said: “'I’m very proud that construction has started. Every time I have a Zoom with Mike (Maura) on various issues, which we don't have too many of, I keep asking him to send me construction pictures, and I only see evolution."