After decades of intense agitation, finally the Fishing Hole Road Bridge/Causeway was officially opened on Friday (June 26), finally. Successive governments over more than five decades, up until the last two, failed to address a bridge at the key connection meaningfully.
The project which the Free National Movement Government, headed by Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis, opened, was started back in 2015 by the Progressive Liberal Party Government.
Member of Parliament for West Grand Bahama and Bimini Pakeisa Parker-Edgecombe, expressed her pleasure at the overpass’ long awaited opening, particularly on behalf of her constituents in the Western District.
“I think it is a good day for residents of West Grand Bahama. We’ve had many people that would have voiced their concerns about the need for this causeway, and, to finally have it done after so many years, I think it speaks volumes for what we can do for West GB.
“It is always a concern, particularly now during hurricane time, whether or not we’ll be able to access Freeport, and, as I indicated in my speech earlier, this isn’t a 'want' this is a 'need' for us.”
The causeway is the only access for West GB residents to get into Freeport City.
“We depend on it for so many things, from work and banking to shopping. So, we are indeed happy for this here today,” she further stated.
Speaking about the remaining capital works taking place in the western end of the island, Parker-Edgecombe said there is good news for West GB.
“The Ministry of Works has approved funding to now start with paving of our roads, another vexing problem that has existed for many years.
“I think that there are a lot of issues that are now being addressed under this administration, and, I do believe that this government will look out for the best interest of residents in West GB and Bimini, one project at a time.
“In some instances, I hope it could be more than one, but as it stands right now, we are going to have portions of our road paved, and, we are very thankful.
“We look for the completion of the Junior High School and the Administrative Complex, which I do believe will also bring about more jobs. So, it’s just a matter of finishing what was started and coming up with new developments,” said the sitting MP.
Parker-Edgecombe’s recent contribution in the House of Assembly, received applause all around, particularly from residents in her constituencies.
Questioned as about the “forceful” pleas for more to be done in West GB and Bimini, which she said has been neglected, the MP said: “I think it is needed at this time, because at the end of the day everybody wants to see their community thrive.
“I do believe, and I still stand behind what I think has been a neglect of West GB, in total from governance; because a lot of things that we would need, infrastructure and for our development, has not necessarily taken place to date.
“And so, we had to take that strong stance to indict and demonstrate that we are here, we need help in order for our lives to even be better. That stance was taken to be a little bit more forceful, because of the fact that at the end of the day we have to speak and we have to raise our voices, when we are not getting what is needed in our community,” said the MP.
As for West End specifically, the MP said that while impressed with the health care facility (West End Clinic) in that settlement, the seawall is much-needed.
“West End, in particular, has been hit by more than any other community by storms. The seawall is needed in that area, no doubt about it. We are going to continue to press for that, we are going to petition for it and I do believe that we will give those residents a fighting chance.
“Every time a hurricane comes, there is damage to homes and businesses – I am talking about flooding, roof damages etc., and we just need that extra push to migrate anything that comes our way,” Parker-Edgecombe said.
Former MP for Eight Mile Rock Verna Grant said that she was elated, finally, to see the causeway complete.
“You can look at it and see that it is structurally safe, but we can only know for sure after a hurricane. But as it is now, it is wonderful.
“And, I am happy to be living and to be a part of this event. I am sorry that there aren’t many more people, who agitated for the causeway, here, to be a part of this, but circumstances did not permit.
“The is the only access we have in West GB to Freeport and so, this is a good day.,” she added.
Grant noted that she is also happy to see the work being carried out on other capital projects in the Western District – the Administrative Complex, in Pinedale and the Holmes Rock Junior High School.
“They were long-awaited projects, but residents are thankful that finally, those things are coming to the Western District,’ said Grant.
Two other former MPs for West GB – David Wallace and Rev. H. Lindy Russell – were on hand for the official opening. They too expressed their delight at having the causeway, “finally completed for Western District residents of decades of protest and pleas.”