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Make Nassau Harbour Breaches 'Top Of Pile'

NO SWELL TIME – Aerial photo reveals Nassau Harbour damage caused by breakwater breach.

NO SWELL TIME – Aerial photo reveals Nassau Harbour damage caused by breakwater breach.

By NEIL HARTNELL

Business E

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

Nassau Harbour's deteriorating breakwaters should be "top of the pile" in the Government's priorities, a port chief argued yesterday, given the threat to 90 per cent of the city's imports.

Michael Maura, Arawak Port Development Company's (APD) chief executive, yesterday told Tribune Business that the multiple breaches in the harbour's defences were already impacting the loading/unloading of ships at the Nassau Container Port when storms blew from the north-east.

Contradicting assertions by Captain Cyril Roker that the breakwater breaches were "a non-issue" and "no cause for alarm", Mr Maura said BISX-listed APD had been urging the Government to make the necessary repairs - and address "a major concern" - for the past three years. He added that Captain Roker, in a Tribune Business interview earlier this week, appeared to be referring solely to the cruise ship industry and Prince George Wharf. Mr Maura said the cruise ships enjoyed greater protection from both Paradise Island and their size, unlike the smaller cargo vessels that dock at an Arawak Cay facility totally exposed to the breakwater breaches.

"The concern I have with the Controller's comments, as quoted, is that Captain Roker was speaking about cruise operations, but you're dealing with ships 11,000 feet long and protected by Paradise Island," the APD chief executive told Tribune Business.

"The impact to our economy is far greater at the Container Port. Ninety per cent of the goods passing into our economy come through our gateway. The impact these breakwaters have is far greater from a cargo perspective than a cruise perspective. Every single time we have a bad storm there is a consequence for vessel operations."

Mr Maura said his main concern was the lack of visible movement by the Government to effect the necessary repairs, coupled with the fact that the multiple breakwater breaches are likely to get worse rather than better - especially with the increased severity and frequency of hurricanes.

"I think it has to be top of the pile," he replied, when asked by Tribune Business where the breakwater repairs should lie in the Government's priority list. "Every day they wait our risk increases."

Emphasising that it was not a 'quick fix', Mr Maura added: "When we have a significant problem, it's not something we can remedy over the course of one or two weeks. Once we have a major issue it will only get worse from there, which is why we have to keep this at the top of the pile and respectfully ask the Government to help.

"Yes, the breakwater is a major concern for the nation's largest and most significant port - the Nassau Container Port. There are significant breaches in the breakwater along the portion which runs parallel to the port berth, and also the western end of Paradise Island.

"For the past three years APD has expressed its concern and the need that the Government address this. It both disrupts vessel operations, and also in extreme circumstances prevents vessel operations altogether. In addition, the failure of the breakwater is eroding the beach along Junkanoo Beach and also results in unsafe hazards for swimmers."

Mr Maura showed Tribune Business an aerial photograph (shown here on Page 1B) that details both the breaches and the way in which they impact both the Nassau Container Port (NCP) and nearby Junkanoo Beach.

The two large arrows at the top of the picture demonstrate the impact of large swells entering the Harbour through the more than 100-foot breach in the breakwater at the western end of Paradise Island.

"Once we get those winds and swells coming from the north-east, it comes straight on to our bulkhead," Mr Maura explained. "What happens there is that it hits the north-east corner of Arawak Cay, and from there deflects west, running along our bulkhead.

"It causes [docked] ships to move about all over the place, and our cranes trying to unload and re-load them take longer to do that. That increases costs for the vessel operator." Mr Maura said it also caused potential safety issues for both ship's crew and those on land.

The larger arrows also show how the sea swells push deeper into Nassau's harbour and erode Junkanoo Beach, an area popular with both Bahamians and tourists, the latter being mainly cruise ship passengers who use it as a 'beach break' destination.

The area connects downtown Nassau with Arawak Cay and other popular tourist destinations, and Mr Maura said the constant erosion was forcing the Government to incur increased expenditure to maintain the area.

Meanwhile, the smaller arrows in the photo highlight breaches in the breakwater that runs east-to-west directly in front of Arawak Cay. The APD chief executive said "mother nature has punched" ever-wider holes in that breakwater over the past several years, due to the increased severity of storms, in three different places.

"Over time those concrete pylons have been pushed apart, so we have massive gaps in the breakwater," Mr Maura explained. "The sea is moving through those gaps, and ships are moving around all over the place. The impact of the breakwater breaches is very real for container and cargo ships.

"Those holes are getting bigger and bigger every time, and we could get into a position where they [the pylons] end up spilling into the shipping channel. If we end up with a bad storm or hurricane that causes the concrete tripods to spill into the channel, will be able to pick them up? Yes, we will, but since they are interlocked with each other they will not be as effective.

"This is why we're respectfully asking the Government to address this now. It's not them going out in 30 days and providing a remedy. It could take a year. The good news is there is a solution and it can be fixed. There are people that design and build breakwaters that are far more resilient than these ones that were built over 50 years ago, but it needs to be dealt with that issue."

Mr Maura's position aligns with that of Desmond Bannister, minister of works, who told Tribune Business in a recent interview that repairs to the Nassau Harbour breakwaters are a "critical project" that the Government is "fully committed" to addressing.

Mr Bannister said the Government was aiming to include the repairs as part of a $35 million Inter-American Development Bank-financed (IDB) project to upgrade the Bahamas' coastal management and infrastructure, an initiative that also aims to remedy Junkanoo Beach's erosion.

Mr Maura said this was his understanding of the Government's plans, with APD having been invited to a meeting on the IDB-financed project one year ago.

"I'm hearing those conversations are continuing," the APD chief executive said. "I'm hearing there's something going to be presented to Cabinet; I don't know when. I do hearing that things are advancing, at least from a discussion and approval position, in government."

A Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) report last year estimated that the breakwater repairs would cost $20 million, and suggested that the Government transfer responsibility for this to APD in return for the waiver of certain fee/tax payments.

The IDB itself warned in a recent report that the breakwater breaches "threaten the viability of the Bahamian economy", given the potential disruption to cargo imports and exports from Arawak Cay.

Comments

ohdrap4 1 month, 1 week ago

No one will notice until the shipment of kraft macaroni and cheese gets soaked.

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Reality_Check 1 month, 1 week ago

Government should seek to recover a generous portion of the harbour repair costs from the cruise ship operators and APD.

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sheeprunner12 1 month, 1 week ago

The cruise ships are raping our economy ....... and the Arawak Port cartel is profiting from a country that imports 99% of its consumer goods ...... The government should complete the repairs with a P-P-P with the cruise lines and the shipping lines ..... He who profits, should pay.

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TheMadHatter 1 month, 1 week ago

Two articles in one week. Wow. Funny how thia didn't come up in the past 5 years.

Sounds like somebody can't wait to get their "commission" from this contract.

You watch....they won't fix the 100ft section for $200,000 but will instead want to fix the whole thing for $25 million.

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avidreader 1 month, 1 week ago

That breakwater has been damaged ever since the so-called "perfect storm" at the end of October 1991 when 30 foot waves rolled in from the north east and did a lot of damage to the north coast of New Providence and to Salt Cay. Check the newspaper files for more details. West Bay Street along Saunders Beach was impassable as a result of rocks, sand and debris in the road.

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sheeprunner12 1 month, 1 week ago

That is a real stretch of the truth, Avid ...... that would have been 26 years ago ...... the whole damn thing would have broken down by now if there was a 100 feet breach 26 years ago ............ but the breach needs to be repaired asap.

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John 1 month, 1 week ago

When you look at the condition the roads are in on New Providence you really have to wonder what is going on in this country There are craters 2 feet deep and some as wide as the road itself. No wonder every vehicle on the street is rattling like a box of empty cans. And traffic signals are being knocked down and not working. And some say things are even worse on some Family Islands. So is government is failing to maintain basic general infrastructure then imagine the conditions of things less obvious. But in the main time one has to wonder how is it that government has to spend so much on the tourist product and even other very profitable private ventures but get so very little in return. Just drive around the island and look at the number of houses and even businesses that are falling apart, some beyond repair. The site is truly depressing but it tells the deeper story of how much Bahamians are hurting and how many are suffering. How long O Lord, how long.

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sheeprunner12 1 month, 1 week ago

Yes, John .......... my sentiments exactly ............ good roads are a must, but so is the coordination of other utilities that continuously destroy newly paved roads ........... Then imagine if you lived in an island community with no paved road, no potable water, no international airport, no cable and no reliable power????? ......... That is a reality in many Out Islands.

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sheeprunner12 1 month, 1 week ago

Anyone who needs to understand how we are taken advantage of by the cruise ship operators must read the recent letter (Low Hanging Fruit) in the Nassau Guardian by Kenneth KB Bowe ...... He explains very clearly how we can use our locational advantage to make another $300 million per year off the cruise ship operators ....... Then we can repair any breakwater breach with the extra revenue.

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John 1 month, 1 week ago

Well Cable Bahamas never fulfilled its promise, no legal obligation, to have cable in all the islands in 10 years. Yet they were allowed to bid for and receive the license for the second phone company in the country. And again they seem to have gone cherry picking on which islands they will provide telephone services. In fact they are spending most of their time and resources battling with BTC for customers. And while this price war may be beneficial to consumers in the short run, the country can easily end up with two cast strapped dinosaurs. The parent companies of both Aliv and BTC claim that their operating expenses are out of line with the rest of the companies. And even though Aliv has managed to grab near 90,000 customers over the past year, it’s revenue is millions below what was projected. And if the Minnis government keeps its promise to provide free wi go to all the inner cities, this will drastically affect both BTC and Aliv’s bottom line. Then look what is happening with RBC...apparently it intends to tur most of its full service branches into ATM stations..This will not only result in many jobs being lost but great inconvenience for the public. According to persons who use atms now, most of them go down over the weekend. Since they are not serviced after Friday many runs out of money.

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ohdrap4 1 month, 1 week ago

well cable could never make a return by offering internet in remote areas. there is a warped sense in the bahamas that businesses may capitalize losing ventures. there are areas in the US without internet, mind you. I know a man who travels to town to use the internet in the library.

BTC and aliv projections are a joke. they think evtryone is 17 years old and will buy 300 or 400 a month worth of data to talk crap on whatsapp. not so, even the 17 year olds will curtail that when the going gets tough and revert to squabblingling over the use of the family's computer.

while some jobs will be lost at the banks computerization, other jobs will be created such as in call centers and IT jobs. what happened to all the typists who lost their jobs? No one hires typists anymore.

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Economist 1 month, 1 week ago

A countries ability to generate income can, in large part, be traced to the condition of its infrastructure.

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