MP Smith: Longest-ever Dredging Exercise Causing Country to Lose Oasis-class Ships’ Revenue

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Real News Antigua: Longest-ever dredging exercise is causing the country to lose Oasis-class ships’ revenue, says MP Smith

MP Anthony Smith Jr. is criticizing the Gaston Browne Administration for the length of time it is taking to complete the dredging of the St. John’s Harbour.

Smith, the United Progressive Party (UPP) spokesperson on tourism, says it is costing the country much-needed tourism revenue, since the Harbour is not able to accommodate the Oasis-class ships that could bring millions of passengers here on an annual basis.

The Opposition MP says the Browne Administration must take the country’s tourism product more seriously.

He notes that millions upon millions of dollars have been spent at the expense of taxpayers, to date, and the non-completion is unacceptable.

The Government needs to have this exercise fast-tracked, Smith says, since it should not take this long to dredge a harbour.

The UPP spokesman says that being able to attract much larger vessels would double the tourism numbers and boost revenue within the sector.

The dredging exercise – being undertaken by Blue Ocean in partnership with the National Asset Management Company (NAMCO) – has been going on for nearly a decade now, and is the longest dredging exercise in the history of Antigua and Barbuda.

There have been several excuses for the delayed completion – the last being the inability of the equipment to penetrate the very dense rock encountered.

This was since 2022, and the right equipment to get the job done was to have been sourced. However, it is now 2024 and there is still no word on when the dredging will be completed.