EDITOR, The Tribune.
Paradise Island Lighthouse & Beach Club Co Ltd is now in its tenth year of trying to receive approvals from the Government of The Bahamas. We have Bahamas Investment Authority Approval, a Memorandum of Understanding and accepted the Government of the Bahamas’ offer for a Crown Land Lease in 2020. The Attorney General of The Bahamas has told us that the agreements that we have in place amount to nothing which prompted us to take the Government of The Bahamas to court to have the Crown Land Lease honoured.
To me it seems a clear case of the Government of The Bahamas attempting to double deal the same area of land and all was well in Paradise until Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines came along in 2020 to say that they want the same Crown Land, further publicly declaring the land as “Royal Caribbean Crown Land Lease” and illustrated it. Later, however, in a public Town Hall virtual forum it was admitted that they don’t have an agreement with the government.
If true, what message would this send to local and international investors if the Government of The Bahamas signs agreements, offers leases and makes commitments only to then turn around and claim the lease is not a valid lease when it was the Government of The Bahamas that drafted and offered the lease? And apparently it was accepted in its entirety by Paradise Island Lighthouse & Beach Club.
The Bahamas has been declared — “a Nation for Sale” in the past and here we are again. Officially declared a Pirate Republic in 1706, clearly only the attire has changed by those that seek to run the country. The pirate ways of the government of the Bahamas does not represent Bahamians; we are proud of our culture, history and peace.
Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines makes billions of dollars in The Bahamas: their number one destination, while The Bahamas’ environment is exploited without recourse, monitoring or repercussion. RCL expects Bahamians to sit and watch as they enter The Bahamas thinking they are truly Royal. Bahamians watch as they get the menial jobs and RCL exports their huge revenues immediately out of our country for the benefit of foreign shareholders. Bahamians simply want equality, balance, a level playing field and opportunity and we don’t mind working hard for it and we want our GDP to grow with an improved bottom line.
Paradise Island Lighthouse & Beach Club is taking that stand, we are uniting Bahamians not just for our cause of having to beg government for opportunity and have their foot taken off our necks, but also reverse the experience of getting red tape while foreign investment gets red carpet. We are taking the stand alongside a growing number of Bahamians to state that Bahamian Crown Land is for Bahamians.
Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines stampede through the land boundaries defined in our Crown Land Lease and claim it as theirs ignoring the requests from Paradise Island Lighthouse & Beach Club for talks. Michael Bayley CEO of RCl wrote me directly to stop harassing them simply because in the course of 15 months I have asked to discuss our project.
RCL have been coming to The Bahamas for the past 50 years with a track record of pollution and exploitation of our natural resources in their quest for bonuses and bottom line results, and only now recently are putting money into the local community obviously because they want even more and apparently are prepared to disregard Bahamians to get it. Well, this is going to stop and I am standing up to them.
This is a real life story of David and Goliath. RCL’s local lawyer told me I am just one man with a stick, so I used a stick to draw a line in the sand to identify my boundaries. I have hired an expert legal team, led by Wayne Munroe, QC and its game on!
CAPTAIN TOBY CS SMITH
May 23, 2021.