Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is making bold strides in fostering economic development and improving the working conditions of its citizens with a remarkable land reclamation initiative in its capital city, Kingstown. The project, which commands a substantial budget of US$250 million, plans to retrieve a six-hectare stretch from the North River to the Kingstown Fish Market to construct a cutting-edge port, replacing the existing Kingstown Deep Water Wharf.
Known as the Port Modernisation Project, this initiative ranks as the second most substantial capital project in the country’s history, underscoring the vital role that port development plays in the nation’s economic advancement. In designing the project, emphasis has been put on minimizing disruption, opting for seaward reclamation instead of using existing waterfront properties.
The project’s implementation lies in the capable hands of Canada’s Aecon Group Inc., with oversight provided by Sellhorn from Germany. A diverse range of funding sources supports the initiative, encompassing a US$110 million loan from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), a US$32 million grant from the CDB-administered United Kingdom Infrastructure Fund, and a US$43 million investment from the Government of SVG.
One of the project’s key components involves the use of the HAM 316, a trailing suction hopper dredger, to transport 1.17 million cubic meters of sand from the seabed off St. Vincent’s southeast coast to Kingstown, where new land is being recovered. The dredging process, which is expected to continue over seven weeks, is carefully planned to avoid any detrimental effects on coastal wave action.
Project manager Lenski Douglas underscored the importance of building a climate-resilient port with the capacity for future expansion. The new port is viewed as a stimulant for the redevelopment of Rose Place, a neighboring community to the west, as the local fishing community is relocated. Measures have also been taken to ensure the initiative’s fairness, with specific safeguards to prevent any adverse impacts on women and various interest groups.
This project forms the initial phase of a wider three-phase port development plan. It also necessitates infrastructural adjustments, like rerouting a sewer line managed by the Central Water and Sewerage Authority and carrying out necessary roadworks to integrate the new facility into the Kingstown Road network. The facility is also planned to provide accommodations for all vital port-related stakeholders.
The reach of the Port Modernisation Project extends beyond the establishment of a new port; it’s a vital part of the government’s urban development project, which includes the refurbishment of Little Tokyo, highlighting the government’s commitment to comprehensive urban development and economic prosperity.
In essence, Kingstown’s land reclamation project represents a pivotal point in St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ history. With the anticipation of the project’s completion, it’s envisioned that the new port will significantly contribute to economic growth, enhance safety, and alleviate poverty, paving the way for a brighter future for this Caribbean gem.
The land reclamation project in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines has made substantial progress over the last three weeks. The dredging phase of the project, which involved the extraction of 1.17 million cubic meters of sand from the seabed, was completed on June 3, 2023, ahead of the estimated seven weeks’ schedule. The dredging vessel, MV Ham 316, made almost 300 trips between the seabed off the southeast coast of St. Vincent and Kingstown, where the sand was used to reclaim land for the construction of a new container port. The successful completion of this phase was confirmed by a final close-out bathymetric survey, which reported no damage to the seabed, no sightings of marine mammals or turtles, and no marine flora or fauna observed in the dredged material. The water quality monitoring results for turbidity and suspended solids at both the borrow area and reclamation site also fell below the threshold limiting values.
Following the completion of the dredging phase, the project has moved on to the vibro-compaction of the sand, a process that started on May 27. This step will be followed by temporary measures to protect the slope of the reclaimed area and the installation of piles around the perimeter to create a combi-pile quay wall. The piles and equipment should arrive in June, and actual piling is scheduled to commence in July on the east wing wall, adjacent to the Kingstown Fish Market.
To ensure navigational safety around the construction site, two lighted navigational buoys were installed on June 4 to mark the seaward boundary of the Port Modernisation Project. These buoys will remain in place until the completion of the project.
The project, valued at EC$670 million, is on schedule to be completed by May 2025. Activities concluded under the project include the resettlement of project affected persons from Rose Place beachfront in August 2022, and the re-routing and operationalisation of the new sewer line in April 2023. The contract for the construction of the port was signed on May 4, 2022, with Aecon Construction Group Inc, valued at approximately US$170.4 million or EC$460.07 million, and Sellhorn Engineering is overseeing the overall project, with a contract valued at EC$10.7 million1.
Land reclamation is a process where new land is created from oceans, riverbeds, or lake beds. The Kingstown land reclamation project in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is one such endeavor that aims to create new opportunities for the island nation.
The primary goal of the Kingstown land reclamation project is to address the shortage of available land for development on Saint Vincent island. With a growing population and limited space, the government has turned to land reclamation as a solution to meet future needs for housing, commercial spaces, and public amenities. One of the key benefits of this project is its potential to stimulate economic growth through increased investment in infrastructure development. By creating new areas for commercial establishments and residential buildings, it is expected that local businesses will expand their operations while attracting foreign investors as well. Furthermore, this project will enhance the island’s transportation network by constructing new roads and bridges that connect reclaimed areas to existing communities. This improved connectivity will facilitate trade and commerce while increasing access to essential services such as healthcare and education.
Funding Sources and Cost-Effectiveness The total cost of the Kingstown land reclamation project is estimated at approximately $670 million USD. The government has secured funding from various international sources including loans from development banks like World Bank and Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), as well as grants from foreign governments like China. In terms of cost-effectiveness, it is important to consider that this investment aims not only at providing additional space for development but also at boosting economic activity in the long run. As new businesses emerge on reclaimed lands, tax revenues will increase over time—ultimately offsetting the initial investment cost. Additionally, the project will generate local employment opportunities during its construction phase and beyond, further contributing to the island’s economic growth.