Not many 30-year-olds have the responsibility of revamping an entire department, but then again, not many people in general are like Marques Williams.
Technically trained as a maritime professional, Williams became Abaco’s new Port Administrator two months ago. The prior Port Administrator, Leeland Russell, was on secondment from the Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) and is now retired.
According to Minister of Transport and Aviation Glenys Hanna-Martin, Williams will oversee the repair and upgrade of the Port, which includes closed circuit television, enhanced lighting, and retraining of security personnel because ultimately there will be an increase in manpower.
He is also responsible for general compliance under the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code, which is a comprehensive set of measures to enhance the security of ships and port facilities, developed in response to the perceived threats to ships and port facilities in the wake of the 9/11 attacks in the United States.
Well qualified for the job at hand, Williams first joined the Royal Bahamas Defence Force as Marine Seaman/Commando Squadron in 2003-2006, and later attended SUNY Maritime in the hopes of becoming a captain. He graduated in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in International Maritime Trade and Transportation with a minor in Intermodal and Maritime Security.
“Upon graduation, I was taken up by the BMA (Bahamas Maritime Authority), and I went to London to be in their graduate program,” he shared. “I worked in every department at BMA then I worked at the IMO (International Maritime Organization), which is the maritime branch of the United Nations because it gives all the regulations for the industry.”
In 2010, Williams earned certification as a Maritime Auditor/Lead Auditor at Warsash Maritime Academy in Southampton, Hampshire, UK.
That experience afforded him the opportunity to observe how laws are made, provide input, and work on the initial development of the Maritime Yacht Code. Although it was determined that The Bahamas has a good international maritime program, they wanted to discover what the overall maritime regime in each country is.
“I was the liaison officer for The Bahamas. They train auditors from all over the world, and inspect how maritime is conducted in each person’s country,” Williams explained. “They saw our shortcomings and what we were good at, and wrote recommendations that catapulted The Bahamas into being the first country to start maritime strategy from the audit.”
From there, Williams was employed as Assistant Port Controller at the Port Department in Nassau, and Ballast Water Management was among the specialized training he received, and it is a major issue in the maritime industry.
“Ships come from all over the world and take sediments from other countries, so we have invasive species like lion fish for example. While the lion fish is the low on the list of more threatening invasive species, we have to preserve our country because The Bahamas is the birthing area for almost the entire Eastern seaboard.”
This strategic placement has lent itself to significant potential for the country as well as for Abaco.
He said: “There are a lot of things that have to be done for us to be internationally compliant, but there is a lot of value in ports. Ports help to build cities; 95 percent of the world’s cargo is transported by ships.”
Williams said although the industry is male-dominated, women are making their mark in this lucrative industry with many business opportunities available for Bahamians.
At the Port Department, Williams is assisted by Troy Mills, office manager; Jackie Williams, accountant/receptionist; Sarah Swain, registrar; Gary McDonald, dock master; Samuel McPhee, who carries out inspections and investigations; Leon Wilchcombe, security manager with a complement of six security officers; and two lighthouse keepers: Jeffrey Forbes and Elvis Parker.