The post office building on East Hill Street.
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
MOULD and a broken air-conditioning system could soon be problems of the past for General Post Office workers, with press secretary Anthony Newbold revealing yesterday that Cabinet has decided to relocate the institution to the old Phil’s food store building on Gladstone Road.
The government acquired the building through compulsory acquisition, Mr Newbold said. He could not say how much it will cost to renovate the building or when workers will officially relocate.
“The long nightmare that the staff at the General Post Office has been enduring for at least the last five years is about to come to an end,” he said during yesterday’s press briefing.
“The Cabinet has decided by compulsory acquisition to acquire the former Phil’s building on Gladstone Road and to retrofit it to accommodate the General Post Office. What it will cost to do that, the amount of time it will take, the Ministry of Works will have to go in there and make a determination. I know we all remember the sit-outs, the mould, the lack of air conditioning. Those will be a thing of the past once the government is able to get this building and do the work that needs to be done with it.”
Previously, the Christie administration launched a public private partnership (PPP) to relocate the office to the Independence Drive Shopping Centre off Tonique Williams Darling.
However, the Minnis administration halted that project last year, with Works Minister Desmond Bannister saying it received the green light without approved plans or a building permit for construction.
He said though technical officers at the Ministry of Works advised the administration a traffic impact study was needed, none was performed and nor did the government determine if ground contamination from the nearby gas station would occur.
Environmental and social assessments were also not conducted.
Yesterday, officials could not say what will become of that PPP arrangement. “There may be other uses,” one official said, adding a determination has to be made.
Reporters asked Mr Newbold if the Gladstone Road location location is conducive for many of the people who will be accessing the General Post Office.
“Everyone will have to make a way to get to the post office,” he said. “We got to do something for those people in the post office. Right now that appears to be the best option and so the good thing about it is it’s on a major roadway. Buses run there for people who need to get there but it’s also a busy roadway. A lot of people coming from the southwest got to pass the post office either to go to work or to go home. How permanent it’s going to be I can’t say but at the present time that is the best option; good size, good space.”
For many months General Post Office workers have worked shortened shifts at their East Hill Street location because of the “hazardous” conditions, including a malfunctioned air conditioner and a mould infestation problem.
Last year Bahamas Chamber of Commerce CEO Edison Sumner said the shortened work hours were a “pretty vexing issue” for a number of businesses.