Transportation Minister Paul Davis has told The Telegram the provincial government is ready to move ahead with a request for proposals (RFP) for construction of the province’s next ferry boats.
“We’re within days of actually issuing the RFP and that’s our intention,” Davis said.
The international call has the potential to cut Marystown, and provincial shipbuilders, out of the provincial ferry fleet renewal program for the near future.
On Dec. 17, Davis told reporters the province would be issuing the RFP, looking for a third, 42-metre ferry, with enough capacity for about 16 vehicles and 80 passengers. It also wants to see a replacement built for the MV Capt. Earl W. Winsor, the current Fogo Island-Change Islands ferry.
Davis said the Kiewit shipyard in Marystown is the only yard in the province capable of taking on the construction, but the provincial government would go outside for the build if the price was right.
The last two provincial ferries to be built — the MV Grace Sparkes and the MV Hazel McIsaac — were built at the Kiewit facility, at a cost of $27.5 million each. An argument arising over additional costs, between the government and the company, left plans for further ferries stuck in limbo.
In the spring of 2012, the issue was set aside as government entered into fresh discussions with Kiewit, to negotiate a deal for the province’s next ferry.
The announcement of the soon-to-be-issued RFP is meant to break the impasse in those negotiations — seeing construction on the ships begin either here or, if necessary, elsewhere.
Despite talk circulating recently between workers and politicians on the Burin Peninsula — suggesting Kiewit has gone to the province with a new, cheaper price on the next ferry since the RFP announcement — the Transportation minister said there has been no such movement on the file.
“We’ve got nothing new on the table, no, since last fall,” Davis said in response to questions late Wednesday afternoon.
“But now ... if Peter Kiewit makes a decision to enter into that competitive process, I mean I welcome it and would encourage them to give good consideration to it.”
As reported earlier this week, Kiewit’s Cow Head facility in Marystown will be home to the building of a massive, Hebron module build. However, according to a union rep for workers in the area, Marystown would still be able to handle construction of the next provincial ferries at the nearby shipyard.