Kralendijk, Bonaire - In early January, Arcadis Nederland was on hand for the unveiling of a renovated set of piers in Bonaire by the Minister of State of the Dutch Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations. These piers in the Kralendijk harbor are of vital importance to the island and its tourism industry.
Nature preservation has been high on the agenda of Bonaire since the early 1970s and has grown in importance more recently. In the last ten years, tourism in Bonaire increased and a growing number of cruise ship companies started to regularly moor their enormous floating vessels in the harbor of Kralendijk. While tourism is great for the economy of the island, along with it comes an uptick in trash left by visitors.
A threat to sustainability of the tourism industry in Bonaire has also been aging harbor infrastructure. Two piers provide the only access points for the cruise ship tourists – during the peak holiday seasons more than five thousand visitors walk across them on a single day. Due to the heavy use and the natural wear of the fifty to seventy year old piers, the materials of the moorings had deteriorated to such an extent, that cruise ship companies threatened to stop frequenting the island. If this happened, the local economy would suffer greatly. Consequently, the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, including Rijkswaterstaat, commissioned Port of Amsterdam International to complete a thorough renovation of the harbor piers of Kralendijk.
“All over the world, harbors are facing major renovation challenges. Sea vessels are growing larger and larger, so the landing stages need to become stronger and longer as well,” said Gert-Jan Nieuwenhuizen, Managing Director Port of Amsterdam International.“
Getting the work done
After completing the final design of the renewed piers, contractors were selected based on their initial proposals. Teunis Louters, Global Director Ports & Waterways at Arcadis Nederland, stated “Port of Amsterdam International approached us because we’ve been successfully running harbor infrastructure renovation programs in the Caribbean and the Central America region for quite some time. The primary objective of all these projects was to improve the overall performance of the ports and to ensure continuity and safety. Together with Port of Amsterdam International, we assessed the state of the existing piers on Bonaire and provided the supervision of the market consultation for the repairs.”
Ultimately, this also lead to the selection of a specific alternative technical approach, provided by Knol/SealteQ, one of the contractors, that extended the lifetime of the piers with many more than the requested 10 years. Jos van Kerckhoven, Head of Department Ports & Hydraulic Engineering at Arcadis Nederland had this to say: “Thanks to an innovative treatment of the piers with a high-tech carbon fiber coating, the piers will be fully and safely operational for at least 20 to 40 years. Combined with the underwater cleanup initiative, this renovation project is something of a clean start for Bonaire - all of which would not have been possible without the commitment of ‘our man on site’ Jurgen Jongenelen, who stayed on Bonaire for six months to streamline the project.”
“The people of Arcadis Nederland played a valuable role inspecting the existing piers, finding the right partners and codeveloping technical approaches to extend the life of the piers to a maximum degree. Together with our senior project manager Wim Vlemmix and the harbormaster of Bonaire Günther Flanegin, they also succeeded in creating a firm local support base for establishing a smooth renovation process while limiting operational costs,” said Gem Beemsterboer, Director of Operations at Port of Amsterdam International.
To engage as many residents of Bonaire as possible in the project, a local agency was contracted to hire regional workers for most of the renovation work. Additionally, a wide range of local officials and organizations were approached, from the harbormaster to the local non-governmental organization Stinapa, which has been commissioned by the island government to protect and manage the Bonaire National Marine Park. While speaking to all these stakeholders, Arcadis’s Jurgen Jongenelen researched the best way to complete the renovation project with an underwater clean-up initiative.
Clean-up after the work
The project team determined that our contribution to Bonaire would be much more substantial if we raised enough money to support a clean-up of a sizable area of the ocean floor to mark the completion of the renovation project. $11,000 was raised to support a group of local volunteers, including divers who have previously helped Stinapa. A large scale initiative to extract the litter on beaches and in the waters was performed. This clean-up along with the revitalization of the piers, infrastructure integral to the economy of the Bonaire, has helped the islanders make a fresh start, and improved their quality of life on this Caribbean pearl of the Dutch kingdom.
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