By YOURI KEMP
The Abaco Chamber of Commerce president has urged the government to “secure” the island’s major shipping port so that commerce can again flow freely and boost post-Dorian recovery.
Ken Hutton, pictured, told Tribune Business that while the November 7 re-opening of Maxwell’s Supermarket would bring “a huge degree of normalcy” back to Marsh Harbour, this could be threatened by an inability to import the necessary inventory.
“If we can get the international sea port secured it can be done,” Mr Hutton said of the planned re-opening. “Right now it is still not secure. “There is no fencing or anything at the sea port, and it is open to any and everyone to just walk on through.
“When the ship comes in and you have cargo, and are unable to take cargo off of the dock immediately, there is no place to leave goods at storage. If the cargo is not cleared by Customs then the shipping companies have to take the risk of the cargo, and the shipping companies are not willing to do that.”
Mr Hutton added: “We need the port secured. We need a full-time presence at the dock, Defense Force officers and police officers, along with Customs in addition to securing the area with proper fencing and surveillance equipment and the other necessary security measures.
“There is also a huge risk of stowaways, too, that international shipping companies are at risk for. There is just no security. Security is the main issue here in Abaco.”
Mr Hutton added that efforts to rebuild Abaco would “really take off” with the return of the commercial banks and financial service. Agreeing that Maxwell’s reopening would be a major boost, he said: “I think it just adds a huge degree of normalcy back to the area.
“People are now dependent on international aid and, with Maxwell’s return, it would make life a little easier. People now have to personally bring food supplies with them every time they come into Abaco, so with the reopening we don’t have to do that any more.”