The completion of a new tender dock and renovated cruise ship pier at Wickhams Cay I gave government something to celebrate this week. Dozens crowded the facility on Tuesday evening to hear officials boast about the project’s completion.

Ultimately, they said, the completed work will give cruise ship tenders a better place to dock, meaning that passengers will arrive at a more inviting location with less congestion.

Government first locked into a contract with Odyssey Venture Group Limited a year ago to construct a tender dock and pier for $3,440,987. Officials also signed a separate agreement with James Todman Construction Limited in the amount of $1,528,833 to carry out repair work to the existing cruise ship pier.

Kraus-Manning Construction Services was hired to oversee the project.

On Tuesday, officials said the contractors completed the project in a timely manner — even though the work took longer than expected. In September 2009, officials said the dock would take six months to complete, but Premier Ralph O’Neal later said the job had been postponed to accommodate the tourist high season.

The new dock, which is protected by a newly constructed breakwater, measures 336 feet by 22 feet, and an adjacent pier measures 100 feet by 30 feet.

Easing traffic

On Tuesday, officials said the new addition to Wickhams Cay I will help alleviate congestion in the capital, which in recent years has been exacerbated by a high volume of cruise ship passengers disembarking at the Road Town Ferry Terminal.

The new dock will provide cruise ship tenders with a more efficient place to pick up and drop off passengers, said Ronnie Lettsome, chairman of the BVI Ports Authority.

Furthermore, the new facility will act as a “plan B,” or alternative destination, for ferries when planned construction to remodel the RT Ferry Terminal commences at a later date, Mr. Lettsome added.

The facility also will be able to accommodate mega-yachts, he explained.

Additionally, the location has undergone an aesthetic makeover: New fencing, landscaping and lighting line the pier.

“So it’s attractive to the cruise ship business and the people of the BVI,” Mr. Lettsome said.

Targeting ports

Work on the existing cruise ship pier, which included repairs to structural damage and the installation of new fenders, began after the last cruise ship season, officials said.

The new fenders were part of an upgrade designed to allow larger cruise ships to berth at the facility. Maritime International, Inc. aided in designing the fender system, according to Government Information Services.

On Tuesday, the premier said the Wickhams Cay I renovations exemplify government’s ongoing efforts to expand and rejuvenate the territory’s ports.

He also noted that the VI’s neighbours in the region remain dedicated to providing a shining tourism product, and said this territory must not fall behind.

“We have to keep abreast of change … or we will fall out of the market,” the premier said.

Vincent O’Neal, managing director of the BVI Ports Authority, explained at the ceremony that the project initially got off the ground in 2008, when Dawson Wells Consulting of Tortola was contracted to conduct initial bathymetric surveys to determine the plan’s feasibility.

St. Jean Engineering also was hired for engineering consultancy.