Capital works projects in Grand Bahama will come to fruition in short order, according to Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis.
The nation’s leader, who was on island over the weekend for the highly-anticipated opening and plaque unveiling of the Fishing Hole Road Causeway – Friday, June 26 – noted his pleasure that the government was able to bring a resolution to a problem.
The causeway into and out of West Grand Bahama has been a vexing issue for residents, as the road floods during storms and heavy rain downpours.
Dr. Minnis admitted that while the bridge project is completed, there are other challenges.
“We have the challenge with the airport. We are still in discussions with that, but now that the bridge (causeway) is done, we can move forward with some public private partnerships, so that we can expand Grand Bahama’s airport and do what is right for the economy.
“I have a Minister of Works (Desmond Bannister), who has gone through the entire process. They have done all of the tendering, all of the scoping and are ready to move. You will be very shocked with the amount of capital works projects that will be coming out very soon.
“I think that will help to boost the economy, to create jobs and opportunities for individuals, and we want new individuals to get into the construction industry,” he added.
Foreign investment is wanted as well, said the prime minister.
“Of course, we continue to invite foreign investors. They play their part also and we are very confident that our economy will still continue to grow, but we are challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is not only affecting us. It is affecting the entire world, but in spite of that we will continue to press forward,” he said confidently.
Dr. Minnis disclosed that various aspects and projects relating to the country’s number one industry, tourism, are still very much on the table and are expected to move forward as planned.
“We (the government) had purchased the hotel (Grand Lucayan Resort) and that has subsequently been bought. It has been delayed temporarily, but we are certain that the project that the ITM Group and Royal Caribbean had planned will come to fruition. I think they will be a good boost for Grand Bahama’s economy.
“Grand Bahama is still poised to take off. We know that once one business is successful and starts, that in itself attracts other businesses. We are confident that once the ITM Group starts the hotel, and they do what they said they would do; also, Carnival has made their commitment and reminded us that yes, they are proceeding with the project that they have made the commitment to.
“Once businesses flourish and progress that will attract others and so, we are confident that other businesses will be attracted here. And of course, we want opportunities for Bahamians also,” said the prime minister.
In terms of present employees at the Grand Lucayan Hotel, who are expected to receive severance packages shortly, had this to say.
“Once the hotel has been sold, as you know it is a procedure and the legal system will come into play. Workers are usually released and get their packages. That would have all been discussed. We know that certain things would have happened with the transition so that the new owners can take over. All of that had been worked out, but it is unfortunate that there has been a breakdown of communication where workers were not at least told in advance when the release would commence. That is unfortunate,” said Dr. Minnis.
Noting that Grand Bahama has endured a tremendous amount of hardship for nearly two decades, he said that with the strength and resiliency, Grand Bahamians are known for, and the prospective projects in the pipelines for the island, the government is confident that the island will return to the glory days it was once known for.
“I have always said that Grand Bahama went through the recession even before the world entered a recession. Grand Bahama was challenged by a number of hurricanes but in spite of that, Grand Bahamians remained strong. They remain encouraged and continue to press along for the rebuilding and the expansion of the island.
“They can be assured that the Government of The Bahamas will do, for them, and the entire Bahamas. We will see and move them back to what Grand Bahama used to be, if you remember what Grand Bahama was like in the 70s and 80s. I think that it is time that we move back towards that.
“I think that the hospital facility that we continue to renovate here, and move towards a new facility, I think that in itself will be an attraction. Investors will know that not only do we have good infrastructure in Grand Bahama, but we also have good educational systems and great health care facilities. I think that will help to encourage investors to come to Grand Bahama.”
As for the Members of Parliament here on Grand Bahama, Dr. Minnis stated he believes that they have been doing an excellent job representing their constituents, in spite of the challenges.
“I think they have been doing an excellent job. The Member for West End and Bimini (Pakesia Parker-Edgecombe), she speaks and fights for her area. I think the Deputy Prime Minister (K. Peter Turnquest), Iram (Lewis; Member of Parliament for Central Grand Bahama); Kwasi (Thompson) Minister of State for Grand Bahama) are all doing an excellent job. But, you know, unfortunately, they were challenged also, like the rest of The Bahamas with COVID and with Dorian. Grand Bahama would have had two blows.
“In spite of that, they (MPs) basically worked 24/7 to get Grand Bahama back on its feet. I think that within the next two years, you would see the work that they have done. If they were not here, then Grand Bahama would have been in a worse state that it is now.
“I can assure you that around the Cabinet table, those voices from Grand Bahama are extremely loud. We in Nassau remind them, repeatedly, that Grand Bahama is not alone in The Bahamas. And so, they fight for Grand Bahama and I am certain that they will continue to fight. Grand Bahama is blessed to have the Members of Parliament that they do,” concluded Minnis.