By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
A Cabinet minister yesterday said the Government was already moving to address health and safety deficiencies at several key Family Island airports, adding that Exuma’s redevelopment is ‘well underway’.
Tribune Business revealed how the Government has been warned that “a sense of chaos” exists at four key Family Island airports, which lack the necessary management policies and structures to deal with environmental and social concerns.
According to a July 21, 2016, report submitted to both the Christie administration and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) by ALG Transportation, Infrastructure and Logistics, several airports suffer from “general disorder and lack of cleanliness”, with hazardous and flammable materials not properly stored or disposed of.
Glenys Hanna Martin, inister of transport and aviation, told Tribune Business: “That report was actually done at my request so we could know what needs to be done. We asked them to do that, and we asked them to look at select airports in the Family Islands.”
The ALG report assessed the Exuma and North Eleuthera airports, plus their Abaco and Treasure Cay counterparts.
All four have been identified as airports suitable for public-private partnerships (PPPs) between the Government and private investors, as part of an IDB-assisted project to upgrade the Bahamas’ airport infrastructure and secure tourism’s sustainability.
“I can say that the Exuma airport’s redevelopment is certainly well underway,” said Mrs Hanna Martin. “North Eleuthera is commencing. We’re doing a lot of things to address those issues highlighted in that report, but we had asked for that report.”
Overhauling all the Family Island airports has been pegged as an $180 million investment,” said Mrs Hanna Martin.
The Ministry of Transport and Aviation, in a statement issued yesterday afternoon, said work was underway towards the full modernisation of the aviation sector in the Bahamas, including the acquisition of a new radar that is expected to go live over the next few week,s and the construction of an APP Building with simulators that will reduce training times for air traffic controllers.
The Ministry said it has recruited 10 new air traffic control trainees, and is seeking 10 more.
“Now underway is work for the redevelopment of the Exuma International Airport, where design works are being completed for a new and expanded terminal and runway works, and a new fire station. It is anticipated that infrastructural works will commence by the end of the year,” said the Ministry in its statement.
“Design plans for North Eleuthera airport are also being completed. Additionally, technical works are underway for the selection of new airport sites for South Eleuthera and Long Island.
“The Ministry of Works is finalising design plans for terminals and runway works for Moores Island, Great Harbour Cay and Mayaguana.
Legislation has now been enacted for the modernisation of aviation agencies, including the creation of a Family Island Division of the Airport Authority, which is to be shortly created and will bring for the first time a singular and undiluted focus of the redevelopment and operational needs of all Family Island airports.”
The Ministry said the management of the Leonard M Thompson airport in Marsh Harbour will be fortified and supported through a technical support arrangement with Vantage Airport Group (VAG), which currently manages Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA). The terms of that arrangement are now being finalised.