Progress on the airport project continues to go well according to reports from both Basil Read and the St Helena Air Access office. On Tuesday 10 July the Basil Read ship carrying heavy plant, equipment and fuel, will arrive at St Helena. Deon de Jagger, Basil Read airport project manager is looking forward to its arrival.
"Yes, very excited about the ship,” said de Jagger. “Obviously another big milestone that will be achieved on the airport project. We started off in November last year being awarded the project, all this time we've been busy establishing this one portion [of the project], that's behind us now. So the next big milestone is the arrival of the ship and all the big machines. We will physically now, going forward, start with the construction phase.”
Preparation ahead of the ship’s arrival has been intense on island, with plenty of work taking place in Ruperts and out to the site itself. Are the contractors ready for the ship on Tuesday?
"Everything is ready,” said de Jagger. “The whole team is lined up, everyone knows exactly what to do on the day. Obviously it's a first and there's still a couple of finer issues to sort out, but everyone is prepared; they're trained, they know what to do and it will come down to the day to see what's happening. But, we're ready."
It will be a historic event having a ship actually come alongside and dock at St Helena. Janet Lawrence is the St Helena Government's Air Access Project manager. She has been going over arrangements for managing the growing interest from islanders.
"OK, we've already had lots of interest from the general public,” said Lawrence, “but just to confirm, on the first afternoon that the ship arrives, that's Tuesday afternoon next week, lower Ruperts will be closed to the public. On Wednesday Basil Read have kindly given permission for the public to come to lower Ruperts to actually view the ship. Safety has to be our first concern, it's of paramount concern, so what we will ask the general public to do is to park their vehicles at St Michael's church. The Basil Read bus will then shuttle them backwards and forwards between the church and the lower beach area. Myself and Miles Leask from the Project Management Unit will be at the beach area, just in case anyone needs background information. We know that there are school parties already lined up who are keen to see it, so we're looking forward to all the kids and hopefully they're going to be very excited about this. In the afternoon the ship will be discharging fuel, so just as if it was one of the 'Jo' tankers or any other fuel tanker coming in the beach will be closed to the public and that open day shuts down. It's possible that again, on Thursday morning the ship will still be discharging fuel or working cargo; we're not sure at the moment, but what we are sure of is that on Thursday morning lower Ruperts will go back to being closed to the general public. The other point to add there, is given the amount of interest from the general public we're seeing so far, and also given the weather conditions over the last few days, we know that Mundens is a potential vantage point for the public, but we would ask the public to refrain from using that footpath. You will find a road closure sign on both the Ruperts side and the Jamestown side, and that area will be effectively closed to the public as well. We wouldn't want the risk of a rock fall onto a working area below."
The Basil Read ship, ‘NP Glory’, is due on Tuesday 10th at 2pm. Weather conditions permitting, she will come alongside at first light the next day, on Wednesday 11th, and begin unloading cargo. It is hoped, if all goes well, operations can be completed by end of day Wednesday 11th.