BASSETERRE, St Kitts – There is an ongoing and highly charged unsettled dispute between the government of Canada and the Canadian contractors on one hand and the government of St Kitts and Nevis; and the St Christopher Air and Sea Ports Authority (SCASPA) on the other hand, St Kitts and Nevis’ leader of the opposition, Dr Denzil L Douglas said Monday.
Dr Douglas statement came hours after what he termed ” St Kitts and Nevis government creating a crisis by its reckless behaviour over the second cruise ship pier.”
Dr Douglas said that on Monday morning, the Timothy Harris Team Unity government “without the permission of the contractors captured the new cruise ship pier to facilitate a mock opening ceremony because of serious criticism that ‘the Second Cruise Ship Pier Spoil’ during the parliamentary debate of the 2020 budget last week Friday.”
There is serious contention over “outstanding invoices for works already done which run into several million dollars, and disagreements over work yet to be undertaken, but which have been costed but for which St Kitts and Nevis government and SCASPA have been unresponsive to the many queries from the contractors,” Dr Douglas said.
“Although the pier has been appropriately designed and built to specifications, the pier has not been commissioned for public use and has not been handed over to SCASPA or St Kitts and Nevis government because of the unsettled disputes,” said Dr Douglas, who further disclosed that a series of questions and requests for meetings to minister Ian “Patches” Liburd and the government, on behalf of the contractors and the government of Canada have been intentionally ignored over several months.
“This chaos is due to the intransigence of the minister responsible for SCASPA and prime minister Harris,” said Dr Douglas, adding that the most grotesque and reckless incident on Monday morning in which the St Kitts and Nevis government “captured the pier and forced into the harbour two vessels bypassing the permission of the contractors is beyond logistics and logics.”
“This, I believe has now taken these unresolved issues to another level of disgrace and dishonour, where the government has now acted with such massive disregard for the environmental integrity, safety and security of our natural and human resources. The selfish government’s behavior undermines and promotes unbridled adverse interference with the robust regulatory best practices framework typical of the approval of projects like the new cruise pier, and undermines the good relationship we have always enjoyed with Canada,” said Dr Douglas in the statement.
He added that since the Team Unity government has created a crisis and has acted without any disciplinary limits in order to promote an incomplete project with millions of dollars of unpaid bills still outstanding, just to meet its political agenda for upcoming general elections early next year, “I call upon the prime minister Harris and minister Liburd to abolish their outrageous crisis-creating behaviour immediately.”
“I urge in the interests of our national image and international best practices, that both governments continue to operate within the framework of their signed agreements and that the contractors and SCASPA be guided by the arbitration guidelines and await the outcome of the arbitration process and ruling of July 2020. Please stop the chaos and shut down this escalating catastrophe,” said Dr Douglas.
New information indicates that the second cruise pier project has cost the taxpayers of St Kitts and Nevis EC$168 million so far. “It is expected to increase further to about EC$200 million when all of the additional works are costed,” said Dr Douglas, the parliamentary shadow minister of finance.