During his contribution during the Budget Debate in the House of Assembly, Central and South Abaco MP James Albury noted that infrastructure remains the top need for his constituency.
“Abaco has fallen behind infrastructurally without a doubt,” he said noting that throughout the “length and breadth of my constituency, you will find surefire signs of infrastructural decay and neglect.”
Mr. Albury said that Abaco faces “major and minor challenges to the state of our public assets” which he listed as the Ernest Dean Highway, The Dune Road in Hope Town and Reliable Electricity.
He pointed out that the Earnest Dean highway heading south, particularly the section between the Marsh Harbour roundabout and Spring City, has deteriorated under the strain of commuter and heavy industrial vehicles such as dump trucks on their way to the snake cay dumpsite, and fully loaded fuel trucks on their way to the Wilson City Power Plant.
He said that it is not just a matter of “discomfort or inconvenience, but rather the ever present threat of an environmental disaster that increases every day as the roads continue to erode.”
Mr. Albury, noting the special place his childhood home holds in his heart, as well as the significant economic contributions they make, said that “I must fight on their behalf for the urgent attention to and repair of what we call the Dune Road.”
The Dune Road is a significant connecting road between the south end and north end of Elbow Cay and has seen significant damage and erosion since hurricane Floyd, and despite the best efforts of the local population there is only so much they can do.
“I must implore the government, Hope Town has given its best to the nation, and I am hopeful that it will be repaid in kind,” he said.
“The current state of Abaco’s infrastructure is not reflective of the needs of what is rapidly becoming the largest economy outside of the capital.”
Mr. Albury said that he is not anxious over the roadworks needed as he has full confidence in Desmond Bannister, Minister of Works, to do what is needed for Abaco.
“He had visited Abaco with me not too long ago, I believe if I am correct that Abaco was the first family island he visited in his official capacity as Minister of Public Works.
During the mid-year Budget Debate Mr. Bannister noted that Culverts at the Stink Pond on S.C. Bootle Hwy and the Dune Road were on the horizon to receive attention.
Mr. Albury also addressed the ongoing power generation and supply issues in Abaco.
Noting the years of suffering, frustration and economic loss due to the unreliable supply of electricity, Mr. Albury said, “I am saddened to admit Mr. Speaker that this issue has persisted with such uncertainty for so long, that many Abaconians have frankly given up hope it will ever improve in a meaningful way.”
He added that since being elected that reliable electric supply has “never left the very top of my priority list.”
He said that no matter how long it takes or what obstacles are thrown in the way he will continue to “utilize all the influence and authority of my office to keep the lights on.”
Mr. Albury said that issues and problems with Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) are still very much present, the feeling on the situation now is better than it was a year ago.
“If you will forgive the crude analogy Mr. Speaker, the process has finally begun in earnest of tearing off long present band-aids from wounds that have really needed stitches all along,” he said.
To illustrate he revealed that it was recently discovered that the Wilson City Power Plant was never fully commissioned by MAN Diesel.
He said that “this and similar information is what is being discovered at a rapid rate by the new management team on the island so, you can imagine the obstacles they are facing.”
Mr. Albury said that while “we still appear to be some ways out from getting where we need to be… I commend the changes that were necessary to bring the technical experience and executive leadership to address this most critical issue. And I feel the passing of time will fully vindicate these efforts.”