By the time this issue gets printed we will have celebrated forty years as an independent country. We will also be closing out the final leg of the thirty eight year old Regatta here in Abaco. That is if Tropical Storm Chantal keeps her distance long enough. Both Independence, and another successful year of the VERY economy-friendly Regatta, are occasions to celebrate.
I have some other interesting, but maybe not so festive, notes since last issue as well. Deputy Prime Minister Davis paid another visit to Abaco. Assuming you don’t pick up these papers and flip right to this page to read my editorial (you’re so kind) and instead paid attention to the first couple pages you will see he made a few statements. The Deputy PM, also Minister of Works, spoke briefly to our reporter Timothy Roberts about our governments’ dealings with the Chinese, the opening of our airport and the ever-popular road works.
The government has decided, after staying very mum on the issue since the bye-election, that we are going to go ahead with the previous administration’s plans for a North Abaco Port. However, there are some caveats.
The first caveat is that they are restructuring the deal to include more Bahamian workers. Mr. Davis mentioned filling as many open spots with Abaco labour in particular. Our Deputy PM said the Chinese, who are managing and funding the project, were receptive to including more Abaconian labour. That’s very good in my books if it holds true.
The second caveat is the Little Abaco Bridge, which was originally included in the contract, will be scrapped. When these joint projects were first proposed there was controversy surrounding the Port. I heard from Abaconians who supported the project and those who vehemently disagreed with it. And like most topics Abaconians discuss, there was very little middle ground.
However, when it came to the Little Abaco Bridge I heard nearly unanimous support. The cost would be negligible compared to the Port being built and the positive environmental impact would be tremendous. And if you’re living in The Bahamas, ‘environmental’ holds a very close connection with ‘economic.’ Considering North Abaco relies heavily on fishing, and the bridge would open up causeways to long dormant breeding grounds, the bridge seems nothing but advantageous. Unfortunately, the government ran the numbers and apparently, at this time, that project doesn’t have a good rate of return.
They must have used the same calculator when imposing new taxes on cruisers (which they did put on hold) and flights coming into this country.
Moving back to Central Abaco, Mr. Davis spoke about the airport. There were some “hiccups” but they are being “resolved.” Namely, the security booth and fence for the tower needed some adjustment. There are a few other things too, since it will be eight weeks until our next postponement. Sorry, I meant to say eight weeks until our airport opens.
I only have a few things to say about the airport. I don’t care which administration is responsible for the terminal woes, in fact I am open to the idea that there is no real fault to lay anywhere, what many Abaconians care about is that it just opens. I do want to commend Mr. Davis and others in the administration, however, for being more forthcoming with our journalists with facts about the airport in recent months. That’s a good sign.
The final nugget from the Minister of Works regarded road work. Go read the article on page six. Go ahead. I’ll wait.
I don’t have anything to add to that. To summarize without comment: at an unspecified date, though apparently in the near future, we will be getting asphalt black-top on roads in Central Abaco; Simmons Construction will be doing the work; and Abaconians’ complaints are understandable, but explained away.
My friends abroad play a game of “Spot-the-References-to-Roads-and-Potholes” when they read the paper now.
That’s all the “juicy” news for this paper. We have a lot more fun stuff for your reading pleasure: Regatta, Stranded Naked Party, Artist Highlight, Beauty Queens and a Crossword Puzzle among other features. So, assuming this Tropical Storm stays on course -aka directly for us- you have plenty of reading material to keep you occupied on this rainy weekend.
And, again, Happy Fortieth Independence Bahamas.