Jan De Nul wins contract for dredging extension of Seychelles' Port Victoria
In the initial project, the port was expected to be extended to 40 metres. (Seychelles Ports Authority)
A renowned Belgian company, Jan De Nul, has won the bid to do the dredging of one of the components of the expansion project of Port Victoria in Seychelles but negotiations will be done for the costing and, if possible, reduce the scoping size, said a top official.
The port expansion and rehabilitation project have two major components - the construction of a quay wall and cargo terminal, and the dredging of the harbour to accommodate vessels with drafts up to 14 metres.
The chief executive of the Seychelles Ports Authority (SPA), Sonny Payet, told reporters in a press conference on Tuesday that "when we launched the port project it included a large dredging in Port Victoria and we have seen that this does not make sense as the funds are not enough to cover the size of the dredging."
For the extension project, the SPA received $41 million – namely $35 million from the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and the European Investment Bank (EIB). The European Union (EU) has also provided a grant of around $6 million.
In the initial project, the port was expected to be extended to 40 metres, a venture the SPA said is too expensive.
In the revision of the project announced last year, the current quay will be extended by 10 metres out to sea towards the man-made island of Ile de Romainville. The channel and turning basin will be dredged to 16 metres and 15.5 metres respectively, allowing larger vessels to come into port.
"We have looked for the best bidder and we are already talking about 10 million and it is for this that we are going to negotiate with the company to see if we can reduce our scope for the dredging so that we can have a lower cost," said Payet.
Jan De Nul is a Belgian company specialising in the construction and maintenance of maritime infrastructure – with its main focus being dredging work. It is owned by one of the richest families in Belgium of the same name. The company has previously worked in Seychelles with projects on Praslin and La Digue with the SPA itself.
Increase in port tariffs
During the press conference, an increase was announced for the tariffs imposed by the SPA on boats that used the port facilities are set to increase by 75 percent.
The increase will take effect as soon as the regulations are published and gazetted in a couple of months.
The Minister for Transport, Antony Derjacques, said that the last review was done in 2013 and that given all the changes that have taken place and the rising cost of salaries and major expenses done for several projects, it is necessary for the SPA to generate more revenue.
The decision follows the cabinet of ministers' approval on January 18 for the authority to review its port tariffs.
"We have to have the money in order to invest and in order to create economic activity and infrastructure for economic development," said Derjaques.
In addition to the port tariff fees increasing, passenger fees are also expected to increase by SCR 35 ($2.70).
The minister said that this new measure will impact the price of tickets to Praslin and La Digue, "although the government is planning to consult and negotiate with the operators like Cat Cocos and Cat Rose to try and absorb part of the SCR35."
The minister said that the cost of what the ordinary Seychellois will be spending on essential items will be minimal as the authorities have estimated the increase to be from SCR210 ($17) to SCR310 ($24) per container.