Even though the project has a cost totalling some $85 million-plus, including cost overruns of at least $40 million for the Cyril B. Romney Tortola Pier Park Project (TPP), former Communications and Works Minister, Hon Mark H. Vanterpool (R4) insists that the TPP investment was one of the best the territory ever made.
According to Mr Vanterpool at a press conference called by the Opposition on November 13, 2019, he remains “very pleased and very satisfied to have taken that sector of tourism to the level that we took it, where we put a very solid and firm stake in the cruise ship industry in the territory that will last for a very long time."
In 2013/14, the NDP Government announced the cost of the project was around $45M to $50M; however, it became over $85M, a whopping $40M overrun.
Corruption - Audit Report
Then in a long-awaited audit report, commissioned by the then outgoing Premier, Dr the Honourable D. Orlando Smith, and tabled to the House of Assembly on January 15, 2019, a number of files had ‘mysteriously’ gone missing; the Charterland Chartered Surveyors Property Consultants report noted.
According to the Report, “…we have been unable to review details or either the original budget or the assessed final costs and thus we have no specific details, as result, cannot opine, justify or comment on the increases apart from the opinion stated based on experience.”
The report also stated that “some building did not follow proper process, others did,” and that in the end there was not enough information available, so a conclusion of corruption and lack of value for money could be made.
The report cited as example that development costs increased by some $4,915,905, adding, however, “…we lack details as we were unable to identify the reason for the increase.”
In December of 2015, a former developer of the cruise pier development project, Mr Hugh Edison Darley, President of IDEA Inc., had accused the National Democratic Party (NDP) of perverting the process of the project’s development and causing it to balloon far beyond what it would have cost originally to build.
He is also accusing the then government of not honouring their licencing obligations for the use of his designs some of which they changed in an effort to “cheapen” the project.
Mr Darley had also alleged that when he was part of the project it was planned that it would have been built for 45 million dollars.
One of the best investments - Hon Vanterpool
Hon Vanterpool at the press conference said, “I believe we are going to look back 10 years from now and say that investment in the cruise pier was one of the best investments this territory has ever made and I am very comfortable with that," he said.
According to the Opposition Member, "it is a legacy that I want the former Premier to be proud of, and I as a minister and the rest of the government, the NDP, [are] very proud of it."
According to the Audit report; however, statements claiming value for money by Mr Vanterpool is not necessarily accurate.
“I can honestly and confidently account to you, that not one penny of your funds has been taken by myself," Mr Vanterpool said on the National Democratic Party’s (NDP), ‘Drive Time’ radio programme of September 3, 2018, while struggling to explain the cost.
At the November 13, 2019 Press conference, Mr Vanterpool claimed that even when booted out of government, he called Premier and Minister of Finance, Hon Andrew A. Fahie (R1) a week later and introduced him to Carnival Cruise lines. This he says was part of his commitment to the continued success of the industry.