By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
IRAM Lewis, parliamentary secretary in the Ministry of Public Works, said that the closure of the road along the seaside in Smith’s Point is for public safety and will reopen as soon as the railing is installed on the newly constructed seawall.
He said the absence of a railing poses a risk to the motoring public and he is asking Grand Bahama residents and the public to have a little more patience.
The area has been under construction for the past two years to accommodate the $4.8m seawall project undertaken by the government. Barricades and fencing have been erected to prevent public access of the road along the seaside.
When The Tribune visited the area in late December, resident Marcel Wilson, of Outriggers Beach Club, said residents are pleased with the work, but are eager for the road to be reopened to the public.
Mr Wilson said that reopening the road is vital to the livelihood of area residents. The Smith’s Point settlement is well known for its weekly Fish Fry on Wednesdays. Residents operate small family restaurants and bars in the community and rely on customers who frequent the area.
“We are happy with the job; just a little frustrated now because it has been two years. We need it to be open because people are starting to feel the pinch economically from the road still being closed,” Mr Wilson said in late December.
When contacted on Monday, Mr Lewis indicated that the contractor, Waugh Construction, has ordered the railing for the seawall and is now waiting on the suppliers to have it shipped to The Bahamas.
“There have been a lot of requests for the road on the seaside to be reopened, but we would be putting the government at serious risk,” Mr Lewis said.
The parliamentary secretary, who is also an architect by profession, said that the government has to ensure the area is safe for the public before reopening the road.
“We know persons have been walking through, patronising the conch stands and businesses, but from our perspective, the road is not open to vehicular traffic because of a safety factor,” he explained.
“During the yuletide season we could have opened it, but we cannot afford for one person to be injured or any life lost. We are asking residents and the public to be patient for a little while longer,” Mr Lewis said.
He said that Waugh Construction had done a tremendous job with the seawall project.
“To put pressure on the contractor (to open the road) after doing such a great job and put them at risk is not a predicament we would want to put anyone in,” he said.
In addition to the seawall, the government has also completed road repaving at Smith’s Point. The seawall resolves many years of coastal erosion at the settlement and protects against storm surge.