It is good to hear that the new government plans to open the West End port to international ferries by August while plans proceed for a new facility.

Now we hope that leaders can achieve both goals in a cost-effective, efficient and transparent manner.

The previous government’s temporary solutions at the port after Hurricane Irma, which have included a container and a tent, were inadequate at best. As a result, leaders did not make good on promises to accommodate international ferries even as multiple deadlines came and went.

Surely a better solution can be found with some careful thought and planning.

Before Irma, the port had been welcoming more international arrivals than its Road Town counterpart, government numbers suggest: In 2015, almost 170,000 people arrived there, compared to less than 114,000 in the capital, according to the Central Statistics Office.

Given that the port clearly provides added convenience for residents and tourists alike, it should be made fully operational as soon as possible by whatever means necessary, and the full rebuild should be high on the recovery priority list.

A new terminal has been an urgent need from long before Irma — safety concerns have been raised about the facility for more than a decade — and successive governments have put forward various plans without substantive action.

Proposals have ranged from a $40 million-plus 75,000-square-foot facility proposed under the former Virgin Islands Party-led administration to a downsized $5 million plan put forward under the subsequent National Democratic Party administration. But no iteration of the project ever reached the ground-breaking stage.

Last month, the new government held a preliminary public meeting about an apparently new plan to build a 27,000-square-foot terminal.

This size makes more sense, and we hope that leaders will stay the course instead of revisiting the $40 million plan previously touted by the VIP. Even before Irma, that expenditure was grossly unnecessary, especially for a design that seemed so out of sync with the character of the area.

Moving forward, leaders should work quickly and transparently to devise a clear strategy for a temporary facility and a timeline for a new one that takes community input into account.

A reasonable, well-built port in West End would be an important boon for the territory, and it should come sooner rather than later.


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