While questions remain concerning the status and opening of the North Abaco Port Minister of Transport and Local Government Renward Wells announced the government is exploring building a major port in Mayaguana.
While speaking at the Bahamas Engineers, Architects and Allied Professionals’ (BEAAP) stakeholders forum at the British Colonial Hilton, Mr. Wells indicated that the government is exploring a multibillion-dollar opportunity in the southern Bahamas to establish a major port on Mayaguana that could provide services equivalent to those offered at the Panama Canal.
The minister said a similar opportunity to the Panama Canal is available to The Bahamas, if a port is built on Mayaguana.
Questions were asked of Mr. Wells as well as Minister of Works Desmond Bannister concerning the incomplete North Abaco Port project just past Cooper’s Town; however, no response came before press time.
In November 2017, then Minister of Transport and Local Government, Frankie Campbell visited and toured the said to be 95 percent complete North Abaco Port.
Mr. Campbell said at the time that “What I see is fascinating and exciting. It holds great promise.”
However, since then there has been a wall of silence on the status of the port, with the last information indicating that there were small issues not fixed or completed that remained, and that the port has not been ‘turned over’ yet.
China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) was awarded a contract worth $40 million to build the North Abaco Port, and that also included a culvert at the Little Abaco land bridge.
The North Abaco Port Project was announced to have started in May of 2014 but faced a number of delays as well as starts and stops while waiting for permits and addressing a few environmental concerns.
A year ago, Mr. Campbell said that “once we take over and put in place the proper management structure, success is imminent.” He added that there is an independent group that has presented and is ready to come aboard for management of the port.
Meanwhile, Mr. Wells indicated that the government’s search for a managing body for the port is ongoing.
“The government is looking for a group to manage the port, but we want individuals who will bring the requisite experience, because we don’t just want to offload it to just anyone, but someone who can operate a world-class shipping port,” he said.
He stated that this port is an opportunity for Bahamian engineers as well and other professionals to expand their horizons.
Yet four years in the Port appears no closer to opening and with no communication from government on the matter, has many residents questioning what is happening with this significant investment.