EU ambassador visits Victoria Port rehabilitation project, warns against delays | 15 October 2019
The newly appointed Ambassador of the European Union (EU) to Seychelles Vincent Degert yesterday visited the Port Victoria Rehabilitation Project which aims to extend the port and modernise the infrastructure and facilities available by mid 2023.
The visit commenced with a brief meet in which the chief executive of the Seychelles Ports Authority (SPA), Ronny Brutus, welcomed Ambassador Degert and thanked the European Union for assisting SPA with financing for the project.
“The EU has always been an important partner in the development, especially in the fisheries sector. The EU has also been instrumental in securing financing for the port extension of Mahé Quay, here which is expected to kick-start during the second half of next year. It is to be reminded that in April 2018, the President of the Republic of Seychelles, His Excellency Mr Danny Faure witnessed the signing of a statement of intention to sign agreements within the SPA, EU Commission, the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Agence Française de Developpement (AFD) in respect to this project, in a ceremony which took place at the State House,” CEO Brutus noted.
EIB has given a loan of €12.5 million while AFD is providing a loan of €16.5 million to facilitate the project. The EU has also agreed to grant €5 million towards the extension project which involves extending the quay by reclaiming 40 metres outwards, building a new apron and extending the quay wall by 230 metres to create a total quay length of 600 metres long, to create significant berthing space as well as dredging the approach channel, turning basin and depth alongside to better accommodate vessels and ships using the port.
Ambassador Degert was also briefed about the project through a brief presentation facilitated by Project Director Frankie Laporte who explained that the project is currently still in the conception phase as the design is finalised.
Mr Laporte noted several issues at the quay including the fact that it serves numerous purposes due to the unavailability of space to segregate activities as well as other factors which lead to Port Victoria not being competitive among other ports in the region.
After having shown Ambassador Degert the proposed design of the extension, Mr Laporte noted several benefits that the project is expected to have for the local industries reliant on shipping and other port-related activities as well as the local economy.
Among the benefits listed are the ability to accommodate vessels of higher gross tonnage, reduced turnaround time for vessels, freight cost savings for larger vessels plying in the region which is expected to also translate into lower cost of living as well as the opportunity to rebrand Port Victoria as a more competitive port which is compliant with the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code.
On his part, Ambassador Degert expressed his pleasure at being able to visit the facility noting the importance of port facilities to key sectors including tourism and fisheries.
Making reference to trade agreements and Seychelles exports having increased by 20 percent across European markets recently, Ambassador Degert noted that the capacity of the ports is instrumental to the implementation and success of such projects and urged senior officials at SPA to ensure that there are no significant delays in the project.
“My only concern is that there needs to be a good framework in place to implement the project. I wish that there are no delays as delays only translate into accumulated costs and financing. I would urge that you consider the timeline and ensure that the schedule is adhered to and that all possible problems are foreseen early-on and dealt with accordingly,” Ambassador Degert noted.
He also discussed with staff the facilities for cruise ships as well as the implications of Brexit on the project.
CEO Brutus, Project Manager Laporte and other managerial staff then led Ambassador Degert on a tour of the existing port facilities and the proposed project site which will see the quay wall being extended up to the former Coastguard facility.