Members of the community, the Abaco Chamber of Commerce and the Island Administrator came together on July 7 to get work going to correct a slate of long-standing issues that reportedly threaten to close the Marsh Harbour International Port.
President of the Abaco Chamber, Vado Bootle, along with the Senior Island Administrator Charles Moss met at the port on the morning of Thursday, July 7 to set work in motion to repair the septic and bathroom problems as well as render assistance to deal with the Customs Department files being stored in the warehouse.
Work continues to progress on the security booth which has been vacant for several months, and a crew arrived Thursday to begin renovations on the dockside bathrooms which are in a state of disrepair.
An overflow well in the chain of the septic system was found to have a non-functioning pump which was being looked into with the assistance of a local plumber.
Mr. Moss also informed that local shipping agents assisted in locating a container to help in the removal of the Customs Department’s files from the warehouse as well as providing persons to assist with the sorting and lifting.
Several weeks ago information was received that the Marsh Harbour International Port had failed to comply with International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code and was in danger of losing its international status if not brought into compliance within four months. However, this information was denied by Port Director Captain Cyril Roker.
The Port Director, Cyril Roker, visited the port on June 27 to inspect the conditions there and address concerns.
Mr. Roker said “I visited the Marsh Harbour Port to look into matters arising from concerns that have surface on social media.
“Please be advised that an audit of the Port of Marsh Harbour was carried out by the United States Coast Guard along with our ISPS Coordinator; Lt. Cmdr. Barry. The Port facility did not fail this audit but there were a few concerns that was noted in their report and they are currently being addressed.
“Due to the nature of our ISPS compliance, I cannot mentioned the concerns noted; however, I could assure you that they are being addressed, and I will keep you updated to the issues that have arisen through social media,” he said.
The information received; however, painted a dire picture for the port as it was said that the United States Coast Guard had conducted an inspection of the port sometime in April and found numerous deficiencies, some of which have existed for three or more years.
According to that information they were given six months to address and correct the issue, failing that the port will become ISPS non-compliant, and ships will not be able to travel to the US.
Should the Port become non-compliant it would have major implications to trade and seriously impact the local grocery stores, as well as developments like Bakers and Winding Bays, and construction among other things.