Wharf modifications to cost millions
Modification work to Heritage Wharf will cost millions of taxpayer dollars after a Government investigation revealed that its mooring and berthing structures are too weak for the new generation of cruise ships.
The wharf at Dockyard has been plagued by controversy since the outset, and now needs new berthings and moorings constructed and the catwalk extended by 80 feet.
The project to build the original structure was led by general contractor Correia Construction Ltd. It cost taxpayers almost $60 million, compared to the $39 million contract price. The cost overruns generated political controversy and were the subject of an investigation by Auditor General Heather Jacobs Matthews.
The thruster wall at the pier was scrapped instead of repaired after being damaged in Hurricane Igor in September 2010. The then Public Works Minister Michael Weeks said last year that Government would foot the bill, as taking down the wall for an estimated $150,000 to $175,000 would be cheaper than repairing it.
He said he expected further monitoring to show that the structure, which was originally put in place to protect the surrounding environment from silt churned up by ships, might not have been required in the first place. He added that a Government investigation did not find fault with the quality of work done by Correia Construction when building it.
In September, the Norwegian Star cruise ship broke away from the wharf during a storm. Minister of Transport Walter Roban said it was “very fortunate” that no one was injured, and an investigation would be launched.
The new Government did not put a figure on the fresh work that is now required. Minister of Public Works Trevor Moniz said in response to questions from this newspaper: “I am loath to give that figure publicly as the project is still out to tender.”
However, he confirmed that the price tag will be in the millions.
In a press release yesterday, a Government spokesman said: “The Ministry of Public Works has, for the past year, been investigating the structural capacity of the new cruise ship wharf Heritage Wharf at the Royal Naval Dockyard, Ireland Island.
“The purpose of this investigation has been to determine the true design strength of the dock as constructed in order to design strengthening works necessary to accommodate new larger cruise ships proposed by Norwegian Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean International. The construction stage of this project is scheduled to be complete before the arrival of the Norwegian Breakaway on May 15 this year.
“The increased length of the Norwegian Breakaway means that an addition[al] mooring location will be required to the north of Heritage Wharf, extending the catwalk by 80 feet. In time, an extension to the dock area to accommodate the entrance and exit companion way locations will be required.”
The spokesman said the investigation also discovered that the new wharf is not strong enough for the berthing and mooring of “both the ships currently using the docks and those proposed for the future.”
He added: “Consequently it has become evident that we will need to construct a total of four mooring and berthing structures; two additional mooring structures and two additional berthing structures before the arrival of cruise ships.”
Asked what these types of structures are, Mr Correia explained the mooring structures are square structures in the sea near the wharf which ships’ ropes are tied to. He said the berthing structures are on the outside of the main dock, and are also used for tying ropes.
Mr Correia took issue with Government’s statement, saying he disagreed with the comment that the dock is not suitable for the current ships.
“I question this report as being biased and of a political nature. If the dock is not strong enough, why wasn’t there any damage to the dock recently when the winds gusted to 65 knots and the ship broke all its line?” he said.
“The dock was designed for a ship alongside with winds up to 35 knots. Let’s be very clear — I did not design the dock, we build it to the specifications of overseas engineers, and a local engineering company assisted.
“I recall the dock was built for the Voyager size ships. The ships that are arriving now are even larger than these, so the statement is misleading, and an even larger ship is being built as we speak. So to say the dock was not designed for current ships is misleading, trying to make it sound like the dock was not designed for any ships past or present.”
He added: “Countries throughout the Caribbean and Central America are having the same problem — recently built docks that have to be lengthened and made stronger.”
Mr Correia also said: “For the record, the quote for the original build of Heritage Wharf was $52 million before construction was started. The thruster wall was an add on requested by the Pilot Warden and Harbour Master. Its design was downgraded four times from initial design to what existed, because of lack of funds, turned down by the then Minister of Finance.”
He said this was “against ours and the engineers’ disagreement. We thought it was ugly and underbuilt.”
The Government statement said: “Design works for this project are at an advanced stage and the Ministry of Public Works is in the process of procurement of the construction contract which will ensure that the dock is ready for the season. The construction contract was tendered in accordance with Financial Instructions to six local general contractors. The preferred contractor and their team is Sunrise Construction Limited partnered with Crisson Construction and Onsite Engineering. The Government is presently completing this procurement.”
Mr Correia said of that: “Correia was not invited at all to the supposed tender process and we have — bar none — all the equipment on Island to carry out these works. Show me the qualifications of the awarded contractor and the other five asked. How much is it going to cost the Government to bring in all this equipment? Will the workers on this project be all Bermudians?”
The planning application for the new work will be filed on February 1 and Government hopes to begin the work by March 1.
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