By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
PLP Opposition Leader Philip “Brave” Davis believes that the government’s creation of a Ministry for Disaster Relief and now a Disaster Relief Authority further delayed the pace of hurricane recovery for Grand Bahama and Abaco.
He was also critical of the appointment of “politically divisive figures” that have been put in charge of those agencies.
“This is quite regrettable and slows down the pace of recovery,” Mr Davis said on Friday afternoon during his visit to Grand Bahama. He was accompanied by Senator Frederick Mitchell, chairman of the PLP.
On his visit, Mr Davis toured east Grand Bahama and said the pace of restoration is moving at a snail’s pace. He said downed power lines and debris still remains an issue.
Similarly, he feels that the Grand Bahama Port Authority is also lagging in the hurricane restoration of Freeport.
“It must be pointed out that there is a second layer of bureaucracy in this city. That is the Grand Bahama Port Authority. There are complaints about their performance in this hurricane restoration as well,” Mr Davis said.
“What greeted me today is not a city that I remember as a worker in this city as being green, clean and pristine. Sadly, I see too many examples of the garbage along the verges and there is no excuse for that. The place does not look up to mark.
“This is quite incredible for a city and island that has some five FNM representatives. For the moment, I exclude our colleague Frederick McAlpine from the mess because I know from personal experience that he is trying his best. We cannot speak for the others,” Mr Davis said.
In Freeport, Mr Davis was concerned about several issues, including the airport, the potable water situation, and the economy.
The lack of international air traffic in Grand Bahama requires urgent attention.
“Something must be done,” Mr Davis stressed. “It seems disgraceful almost six months after the storm that we do not have an adequate and functioning international airport.”
“I read in this morning’s (Friday) press that the government plans to buy the airport. But while in principle I believe that services of this kind ought to be owned by the government, I am concerned that the private authorities that have responsibility for running and managing this city are in fact abandoning the provisions of the Hawksbill Creek Agreement and simply skimming profits without living up to their responsibilities. Tangentially, I want to say this is clearly reflected in the state of the road in Freeport,” Mr Davis said.
Speaking on the potable water situation, the opposition leader believes that the current level of water potability is “unacceptable.”
“The Utility Company says that they are only at 25 percent potable water supply. They claim that they will be up to 75 percent by May. This too seems unacceptable,” Mr Davis said.
He indicated that an investment in reverse osmosis to supply the city with fresh water is required immediately.
Mr Davis added: “It appears that the authorities here do not have the will or the capital to do anything about it.”
On the economy of Freeport, the PLP leader referred to the pending sale of Grand Lucayan Resort, which, he said, has been a drain on Bahamian taxpayers.
“Finally, I address the economy and the long-running march up the aisle by the government and the putative buyers of the Grand Lucayan Hotel. The purchase has cost the Bahamian taxpayer some $100m and yet today, many in the Port Lucaya market report to us that there are no sales at all during the day. Clearly, something is wrong,” Mr Davis said.
Last May, the government signed a letter of intent with Royal Caribbean Cruises and the ITM Group for the purchase of the Grand Lucayan for $65 million. Negotiations are still underway, however, the purchase has not yet been finalised.