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Freeport’s airport

EDITOR, The Tribune.

Now that the GB Port Authority and Hutchinson Wampoa have conveniently extricated themselves from the loss-making joint ownership of the Grand Bahama Airport, it falls upon the Government to undertake the massive task of rebuilding. The independent consultants that the Government hired some weeks ago called for a Public- Private - Partnership to be most practical solution. The estimate for the infrastructure alone, without the operating costs were some $200 million. Although the Minnis administration hinted that there was "considerable interest by a number of parties" I would surmise that was more political speak than reality, but I would be delighted to be proved wrong.

The stark reality is that the current facility is so enormously embarrassing, that arriving on Grand Bahama is a cringe-making experience. It's bad enough for residents (who no doubt have some knowledge of its history), but our tourists must wonder in which third world country they have landed. The tiny Immigration Hall is sad enough, but it's the Customs hall that is the biggest disaster. The bags are unloaded from the side of the 'building and placed by the baggage handlers behind a yellow line a few feet from the Customs benches. With the forty or so passengers from the Bahamas air flight I was on, the scene is one of chaos as everyone trips over each other to grab their bags and jostle in line for the Customs officials. With a large number of residents claiming exemptions or paying duty, the Customs officers (3) are overwhelmed. Surely visitors should be given preference rather than be part of this painful 45-minute experience. When you finally make it to the exit, it's a 25-yard walk to the road to hook up with any form of transportation. Good luck if it's raining- there is no cover. Should a 100-seat plane, or even bigger arrive, then this awful scenario is simply amplified tenfold. A tourist couple next to me grappling with this mayhem were shaking their heads in disbelief. How in 2021 (two years after hurricane Dorian) in the country's second largest city, can this be considered even vaguely acceptable. There are Family Island airports that have far better facilities than this train wreck. In the early 1970s Freeport's Immigration and Customs halls were far superior to what we have today.

There is considerable anger at the GBPA and global giant Hutchinson Wampoa to take two years to build this pathetic temporary facility before dumping it on the Bahamian taxpayer. The new administration has much work to do, but one can only hope that the airport is given urgent priority. Before a 'master plan' becomes a reality, it would make sense to quickly expand the existing space fourfold at the very least. As we approach the recovery of our tourism industry, this airport is a shocking first impression for visitors to our beautiful island, not to mention a monumental frustration for all those that live here. Prime Minister Davis, this cannot be ignored.

CHRIS PAINE

Freeport,

Grand Bahama,

December 16, 2021.

Comments

Hobo2500 7 months, 4 weeks ago

If they are spending $65 million on Exuma’s airport and Exuma has less than 10,000 residents they should be spending at least $500 million on Freeports airport.

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sheeprunner12 7 months, 3 weeks ago

This is not monopoly money. Exuma airport cost is too much, but that's the way we roll. We will be paying a foreign company for LPIA for decades. Is this the way that we want to go?

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sheeprunner12 7 months, 3 weeks ago

This is a perfect example of how the HCA & GBPA have used the Government as a fool. The role of HW is just another spin of two monsters tag teaming a desperate Bahamian Government that was hoping for a better outcome. The Government has been left holding the bag for 20 years by these two monsters. Time to wise up

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TimesUp 7 months, 3 weeks ago

A well written reminder!

What upsets me is the mental affect that the airport has on residents. We were decimated, forgotten and left to fend for ourselves. No longer is there any impression that the government will protect us in or after a catastrophic event here in Freeport. Every time you leave or more importantly every time you return you are jarringly reminded of the decay of Freeport and the abandonment by anyone in a position of responsibility to fix it.

There is 1 shred of hope however dismal and hard to achieve and that is self reliance! screw the government as they screwed us! forget them and their politics! If the government can do anything for Freeport it would be to get out of the way! I will invest my last little bit of savings I have into the airport or the hotel! Its time for Freeport to take a stand!

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truetruebahamian 7 months, 3 weeks ago

And jumping on the same opportunistic grab opportunity in line with those who take advantage if our government's ineptitude is Royal Caribbean lines, the cruise ship monster.

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sheeprunner12 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Agree ....... GB is in a downward spiral that will end with GBPA & HW selling out and leaving after wringing the last bit of profits out of Freeport. Time for 242 to wiseup

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longgone 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Both Governments since 1967 seemed to have done their best to run Freeport into the ground either on purpose (the PLP) or by just abject stupidity (the FNM). Maybe they could raze the whole City and just start over.

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sheeprunner12 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Who will have the guts to tear up the 1955 HCA???

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