Log In

Reset Password

Heritage Wharf to be reconveyed

Setting out plans: public works minister Craig Cannonier. (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Heritage Wharf will be reconveyed “imminently” from the West End Development Corporation to the Bermuda Government, according to public works minister Craig Cannonier.

Speaking in the House of Assembly on Friday, the minister said the 2.76 acres of land would then be leased back to Wedco for a maximum of 21 years.

The quango will retain the day-to-day management of the cruise ship berth and facility operation.

Mr Cannonier said approval was granted in 2009, before construction of the cruise ship berth was finished, to transfer the land to Wedco under the Land Reclamation Act 1964.

“Government subsequently conveyed the freehold interest in Heritage Wharf, Dockyard, to Wedco for the nominal sum of $1 on completion,” he said. “The conveyance document stated that Government had an irrevocable right to reconvey the lands at the same nominal sum if required.

“Following the conveyance of the land, the Auditor-General then raised concerns that having the asset removed from Government’s balance sheet could materially weaken the financial position of Government’s Consolidated Fund. It was further recommended that the asset should be conveyed back to Government.”

It was agreed that this would be done in the 2015/16 Budget year and a lease granted back to Wedco. It was pushed back a year because of delays in preparing the draft conveyance.

Mr Cannonier said $28.6 million worth of repairs and upgrades where made to the wharf, which had an initial capital outlay of more than $50 million, to prepare for the Norwegian Breakaway’s inaugural call and to address damage caused by Hurricane Igor in 2010.

“This amount is being carried on the Government balance sheet as a ‘work in progress asset’,” he said.

“If the reconveyance is not made, Government will have to grant the increased value of the asset to Wedco in this fiscal year.

“In addition to the capital outlay for the construction and repair of Heritage Wharf, it should be noted that the liability of insurance and repair have been maintained by Government.”

Once the wharf is reconveyed, Mr Cannonier said Wedco would be granted a lease for a maximum period of 21 years to “continue the day-to-day management of the cruise ship berth and facility operation”.

“It is anticipated that the reconveyance and the lease agreement will be completed imminently,” he added.

In response to questions from Shadow Attorney-General Michael Scott and Dennis Lister, the Shadow Minister of Public Works, about how this would affect Wedco, Mr Cannonier said the quango would not lose wharfage, with the reconveyance being an “exercise of keeping proper financial records”.

“We’re not looking to be punitive at all, the wharfage will not be touched,” he added. “The operation itself will still maintain as it is today.

“As far as the tax is concerned, all those things will still continue to come to Government, and the wharfage to King’s Wharf as well as Heritage Wharf, will continue to go to Wedco.”

He said details would be finalised in the lease agreement about splitting other maintenance and operational costs between Wedco and the Government.