The public will be aware of recent visits from potential Ocean Freight Services providers Seafast, Hartman Project Lines (HPL) and Meihuizen Atlantic Islands Services (MAIS) between October and November this year. This came on the back of being pre-qualified along with a number of other potential service providers as a result of the Expressions of Interest process, issued in June 2014.
Following short-listing there were face to face meetings with those potential service providers during August in London, to get a better understanding of their proposals and also give them an opportunity to understand clearly the needs of the Island.
Since those face to face meetings the short-listed companies were encouraged to do as much market research as necessary to prepare detailed tender documents. As a result we had visits from three potential providers as mentioned above, and a significant number of requests for additional information from all companies.
Earlier this week, SHG issued the Invitation to Tender (ITT) for the Ocean Freight Services to St Helena to those companies who were short-listed.
This is in line with the timetable set for signing a contract in mid-2015. Tenders will close at the end of January 2015, with a further Best and Final Offer stage built into the programme for getting the best possible service for the Island. A period of contract negotiations will conclude the process with the signing of a contract scheduled for around June 2015 – giving the service provider a year to mobilise in readiness to commence the new shipping service around June 2016.
In terms of Ascension Island, it is envisaged that a service will be provided to Ascension as an add-on to the proposed St Helena service. This will be discussed during the contract negotiations in 2015, and would be on the same commercial terms as the St Helena service.
SHG Shipping Officer, Dax Richards, commented:
“The issuing of the ITT is a huge step for St Helena in securing a reliable and affordable service to the Island. There is still much work to be done to resolve freight services post air service, but we hope this step provides public assurance that we are on track to have an Ocean Freight service in place when the RMS is withdrawn from service.”