THE Western Australia government has allocated more than $2 million, through the Pilbara Ports Authority, to help build a new seafarers’ centre in Port Hedland.

The centre will be within the proposed maritime precinct at the port.

Volunteers built the current seafarers’ centre in the 1960s. But with demand for services growing as trade increases through the port, the current centre is no longer fit for purpose, the government said in a statement.

Last financial year, the Port of Port Hedland handled more than 6300 vessel movements, with more than 3000 seafarers visiting the Seafarers’ Centre each month before COVID-19 restrictions curtailed shore leave for seafarers.

The new seafarers centre is to be bult on the former Sealanes site on Richardson Street in Port Hedland.

This project, the state government said, is the first example of how the Hedland Maritime Initiative intends to partner with industry to transform unused space for the purpose of developing a maritime precinct.

“The Hedland Maritime Initiative aims to revitalise Port Hedland’s West End by creating an attractive maritime hub of international standing, which will increase visitors and create new economic opportunities,” the government said.

Western Australia Ports Minister Rita Saffioti pointed out that Port Hedland is the largest bulk port in the world, saying it is important to have a high-quality seafarers’ centre there.

“Seafarers play an integral part in facilitating the trade of commodities from the Port of Port Hedland and can spend between 6 to 12 months at sea,” she said.

“While COVID-19 means shore leave isn’t available for seafarers at the moment, the PPA is still providing support including care packages and SIM Cards. This is the first planned development for the new Maritime Precinct and I look forward to seeing the West End of Port Hedland revitalised into a vibrant precinct the whole community can enjoy.”