Work on Victoria Waterfront project to start January 2024 By Patsy Canaya |27 July 2022
After a five-year delay the Victoria Waterfront project is getting underway with the setting up of a technical team by mid-August, spearheaded by the Seychelles Investment Bureau, to oversee the investment and tender process, and subsequent construction starting in January 2024.
The announcement was made at a joint press conference yesterday afternoon by the Ministry of Lands and Housing, the Enterprise Seychelles Agency (ESA), the Seychelles Investment Board (SIB) and the Office of the Mayor of Victoria.
When outlining the concept for the development, the principal secretary for Lands, Muriel Morgan, explained that the initial plan, as part of the Victoria Masterplan 2040, has been reviewed in its entirety, at the request of the executive, which wanted a development that was less costly and sustainable and that would also integrate the creole culture.
The cost for the first phase is estimated at US $45 million, which she said is based on the present construction cost.
“We will have lower buildings depicting the creole architecture and we have removed the residential element in the project. We also want to keep the construction cost as low as possible, so as to ensure rent remains affordable. We will be coming up with innovative construction method to keep the cost very low,” explained PS Morgan.
The project is being done on 29,000 square kilometres of government land. However PS Morgan said they plan to reclaim a small part of the sea to increase the land area. It will also consist of a boardwalk alongside the seafront area.
Under the project, the waterfront has been divided into various activities to cater for different groups of people. These include a trailer park for food vans, a food court, commercial space for small and big businesses, a marina project which will integrate both the existing marine charter and yacht club businesses as well as allow new entrants. The project will also cater for the cultural aspect with a stage for performances, pubs and discotheques for entertainment and a lot of green spaces. The place where the abandoned boat ‘Libra’ is located will be turned into an area for watersports. A carpark is expected to be built close by.
“We want Victoria Waterfront to be primarily for Seychellois – that they are the ones operating their businesses there and having fun with their families and friends. At no point in time do we want it to be like another Eden island where it is not affordable for Seychellois; we want to see the complete opposite of that,” said PS Morgan.
For her part, the chief executive of the SIB, Anne Rosette, said the technical team spearheaded by the SIB will be overseeing the entire project until it is handed over to the developers.
The team will be set up by mid-August and comprises key government departments involved with the project, including the Seychelles Infrastructure Agency as well as the Planning Authority.
Ms Rosette said they will devise their work plan that will lead to the launch of the tender bid and expression of interest.
“By the third quarter of next year we should be able to say how the expression of interest has gone and who has won the tender and from then on we expect construction work to start by January 2024. By the first quarter of 2024, we should be able to say who are the developers undertaking the project,” said Ms Rosette.
SIB said the investment should be a public-private partnership and is inviting local developers to come forward once the tender process starts to be part of this national venture which is expected to be done in phases during a five-year period.
Yesterday’s meeting was also to advise the present tenants on the development plan and what it entails. The chief executive of ESA, Angelique Appoo, said they were also informed about their re-location once construction starts in January 2024 and possible re-allocation once it is completed.
This is the second meeting with the tenants. Some had earlier expressed their frustration after they were informed they had to move within the next six months.
“Tenants have expressed few concerns such as rent, how their businesses will be incorporated into the project, and at what stage will they bill be affected. But we can reassure them that we will not just kick them out and abandon them, they will not lose out,” said Ms Appoo.
Seychelles NATION spoke to Michael Azolan, who is running his food van business, Paradise Flavour in the area. Mr Azolan said he was happy with what is being proposed as it will benefit a lot of people, but there are concerns as well.
“It is a huge project that will benefit a lot of people but we are worried that the investment which is very costly will impact on the rent. Although priority is being given to existing tenants we are still worried that the rent might be too high once the project is completed,” he said.
This was echoed by Murielle Dewals who owns a bakery, Ma Boulangerie, in that area. She also feels that the project should be Seychellois-owned.
“I don’t understand why government is inviting foreign investors to be part of the project. I would have preferred that it remains entirely in the hands of Seychellois. Make it less sophisticated so that locals can come in such as artisans and others. But I am happy that they have asked us to stay in the area until construction starts,” said Mrs Dewals.