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Lawyer Says Ferry Failed To Justify Hype And Disruption

By RICARDO WELLS

Tribune Staff Reporter

rwells@tribunemedia.net

A PROMINENT lawyer has called the end of Resorts World Bimini’s (RWB) SuperFast ferry a tragedy, labeling it as proof that the nation’s “selfish leaders can so easily take us down the proverbial garden path.”

Fred Smith, QC, said he is perturbed by RWB’s plans to discontinue its ferry service less than two years after it dredged land previously earmarked for a proposed marine protected area (MPA) in north Bimini to build a cruise port.

Mr Smith, legal consul for two environmental advocacy groups – the Bimini Blue Coalition (BBC) and Save The Bays (STB) – said the residents of Bimini have to feel “immensely emasculated” by the actions of the Christie administration.

However, when contacted for comment, Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe said the government was not surprised by the announcement.

He said the resort had previously notified his ministry of its plans to halt its ferry service with the aim of introducing a more time-efficient service in the coming months.

According to Mr Wilchcombe, concerns raised over the resort’s plans can be viewed as premature, insisting that RWB has continued to operate in the best interest of the island of Bimini.

“That is why even greater emphasis will be placed on new airlift. In fact the runway is being further lengthened to accommodate larger airlines,” he said.

“The decision was predicated along the lines of cost and weather conditions that caused many cancellations. Resorts World says a smaller vessel will be better in such circumstances.”

“The projections augur well for the increase of arrivals and the occupation of rooms on the island. Bimini is among the islands of the Bahamas headed in the right direction toward self-sustainability. Year round and increased employment are unprecedented. As in any development, there is never perfection,” he said.

Mr Wilchcombe contended that the resort and the government are of one accord moving forward; adding that the use of the docking space for tourism and business opportunities will continue.

Meanwhile, Mr Smith said the residents of Bimini sacrificed their society, culture, local economy, marine and land environment as the government promised significant economic benefits to the country from the resort.

“(The country) got pennies for that land that will now be leveraged into hundreds of millions of dollars in land sales on hotels, homes and condo sales, time-sharing, cruise dock fees, stamp tax and real property tax,” he said.

“Genting’s Resorts World Bimini supposedly built this terminal to aid in the sale of million dollar townhouses to unsuspecting second home owners. They dug up the highly valuable nursery area of the North Sound and in the same manner acquired tons of cheap fill. They got tons, cubic football fields full of cheap fill while destroying priceless reefs. Yet, Alice Town got no infrastructural improvements, no education, no vocational training schools, no opportunities in the cruise ship industry. They got nothing.”

“All of that given up for a ferry that no longer operates,” he added.

Mr Smith said the Bahamas has been littered with anchor projects that never live up to their hype.

“This is the epitome of insanity,” he added. “Politicians never seem to learn their lesson - just like in Baha Mar.”

Last Friday, RWB announced that it would end its SuperFast ferry service this week as a part of a new multi-tiered “improved transportation initiative.”

The new ‘Break for Bimini’ initiative will reintroduce daily, non-stop commercial air services from mainland Florida to Bimini, in addition to incorporating a jetty recently completed by the resort.

Comments

TruePeople 4 years, 2 months ago

ya, create a dock to fly planes in.... smart right....

ein nothing new. I would be shocked the day the gov't actually prioritized the country and it's citizens over the potential for personal gain promised by tourism companies, (and / or other international business propositions padded with personal payouts)

And at the same time we got FreddyMitch and his thugs dem always trying to bad up foreigners as the devil.

What kind of insane country is this though?!

One that apparently sees Fred Smith as an enemy of the country.......... ??

Y'all get what y'all deserve

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proudloudandfnm 4 years, 2 months ago

Doesn't matter how small the vessel is. They built a jetty in the middle of the gulf and never built a protective break or lee. Weather will not allow the jetty to be used on a regular basis no matter how large or small the ship is. PERIOD....

The jetty should never have been approved as is. Our government should have known from day one that a jetty with no break water is a waste of money and time. Everyone that saw the plans knew it.... Including Obie and Perry. They simply ignored the fact.....

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sealice 4 years, 2 months ago

those 2 don't know their ars from a pothole in the road

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TruePeople 4 years, 2 months ago

Gov't should have known?

Is like everything is a teachable moment for this gov't..... but they is old dogs that seem to be unable to learn any new tricks..... D average fuh real.... especially at the top

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GrassRoot 4 years, 2 months ago

why are these government schmucks always taking the side of the foreign investors? Now is a good time to put down the foot. RWB is stuck with their investment, they cant walk away. So good moment to walk into RWB's offices and tell them what the Bahamian people need before RWB is allowed to change its business plan and gets permission to start the flights. More local jobs, local pilots, build a school in Bimini for the local kids, provide transport capacity for goods to be brought in to Bimini for the local population. Build a good hurricane shelter, contribute to the hurricane alert system in the Bahamas etc etc. But NO, Obie, is defending the catastrophic turn of RWB, after they screwed up the marine life for nothing and nothing again, and of course he is defending the PLP Governments past actions.... laughable, not electable-anymore Obie.

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Sickened 4 years, 2 months ago

This government needs to be locked up for the crap they pull! Bunch of D average politicians.

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John 4 years, 2 months ago

Not only that but they allowed small thriving businesses that catered to high end, big spending visitors to be pushed aside and closed down in favor of RWB. With all the terrorist alerts (and strikes) many people are not leaving the US shores, especially on a ship. The smaller resorts cold keep local residents employed. Another white elephant like Bah Mar in the making?

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sealice 4 years, 2 months ago

am sure that hellelephant's already made

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Fitmiss 4 years, 2 months ago

I really appreciate the concern about the environment shown on these posts. Unfortunately come election day, many of us will still vote this party back in, because we do not trust the FNM to bring change or fear the DNA is too small and untried. We cannot continue to vote for these people who have no morale compass and would sell their mother in her rocking chair on the front porch, for a buck.

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TruePeople 4 years, 2 months ago

you do not trust FNM and are uncertain of the DNA.... ok, fine... But how does that justify voting back in the PLP?!?!?!

that's like saying: "i can't manage heat. This pot of water is hot so i don't trust it.... and that cup of tea has some little steam so i'm uncertain of it..... so ya know know what i just gonna jump in the fire..... the only same option"

o_0

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DiverBelow 4 years, 2 months ago

That fast ferry will be used for running Ft. Lauderdale to Havana Cuba in the near future as Havana will not deal with Miami, only Tampa & other ports. Too bad desperate politicians can't see a 'temporary alternative' sign placed on their heads of agreement. How about promoting a Havana, Bimini, Port Everglades route? The damage is done, lets think logically... something new for politicians.

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