By Horace Mills, BVI News Online Staff
Government is paying the privately owned Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbour to temporarily accommodate members of the public at one of the Yacht Harbour’s docks, but parties to the rental arrangement are tight-lipped about how much is being paid.
Managing Director of the government-owned BVI Ports Authority Alfred Henley, and General Manager of the Yacht Harbour Eric Hubber both said the rental fee is part of a private deal.
They also noted that the temporary accommodation at the Yacht Harbour is necessary; this as the government undertakes repair works at its dock at the St Thomas Bay Jetty.
“We did a private arrangement with the people from the Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbour. They opened up their facilities. We are quite grateful for their cooperation. Like every negotiation, you negotiate the best deal that was available to us,” Henley told BVI News Online when questioned about the rental fee.
When asked if the fee is above $100,000, he scoffed: “We didn’t endeavour to purchase. They (owners of the Yacht Harbour) have been quite helpful to us and we are grateful.”
Henley was then asked if he considers the amount being charged to be exorbitant. “I don’t think so,” he replied.
Rehabilitation works on the dock at the government’s St Thomas Bay Jetty are expected to last for 30 days.
“We are gonna endeavour to make sure we don’t stay in this temporary spot [at the Yacht Harbour] any longer than we need to,” added Henley.
He also explained: “We are renting the [temporary] facilities that we are using. We have one side of the dock and we have permission where we place tents to accommodate seating while people are waiting. We were also able to secure the former Rendezvous Bar so ferries coming directly from international – either St John or St Thomas – could come straight to the B Dock, and Customs and Immigration will be on hand, instead of having them divert [to other local ports] and take time away from the day trippers.”
Henley told BVI News Online that the temporary relocation to the Yacht Harbour this week was successful, adding that even tourists seem comfortable with the arrangement.
“I was there [at the Yacht Harbour] and things got off to a very very good start,” he declared. “While I was there, quite a few day trippers came through. Some of them cleared at West End and Road Town [ports] as expected. Others came straight through, and Immigration and Customs was there [at the Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbour] to facilitate them. We have put quite a few measures in place to make sure this system goes as seamless as possible.”
General Manager at the Yacht Harbour, Hubber, in the meantime, was tight-lipped about the rental fee for Government to use the Yacht Harbour, which is owned by the BVI Investment Club.
He told BVI News Online: “Unfortunately, I can’t speak [about the arrangement] because it is a confidentiality agreement. Both parties were asked to sign; so it’s a legal matter. I am not trying to dodge the question; it’s a legal issue; and it’s a confidentiality agreement.”
Hubber, however, had much to say about how commuters can best handle the temporary change.
“It’s a little bit of hassle for people. It’s a small island and I hope people will start car-pooling. Virgin Gorda is a tight community and so neighbours – if everybody is taking the same ferry – will be like ‘hey; I will drive this week; the next week you drive,” he said.
Hubber added that the Yacht Harbour does not expect any fallout from the temporary arrangement.
“We are landlords; we have our tenants [at the Yacht Harbour]; we want it to be successful. The marina was not built to be a ferry terminal, and so the docks are going to take a little bit of pressure. Our grounds and whatnot are also going to take some pressure. We are hoping to do some new landscaping. We started last month; so we put that on hold. There is nowhere else for the people to go. You want people to come to Virgin Gorda; we want the tourists to come here. So this is the safer option for people to come,” added the Yacht Harbour general manager.
And, he denied complaints that surfaced earlier this week that motorists were being locked out of the Yacht Harbour. “Sometimes some people like drama, I guess. Some people like to cause drama; that’s the way life is,” added Hubber.
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