THE plans for free COVID tests are coming soon. The solution to the Cabbage Beach access row is coming soon. Plans for a “workable” wage are coming soon. The Grand Lucayan conclusion is coming soon.
All these promises of things that haven’t quite happened yet, so what’s a government to do? Rattle the sabre on shanty towns again!
It won’t be the first government to resort to such measures – after all, back in 2017, then Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis told illegal migrants to leave the country by the end of the year or they would be “aggressively pursued and deported”.
Here we are, four years later, and the government is once again turning back to the same old topic, this time taking on shanty towns again.
But why? After all, the court is already deciding on the matter.
The government is appealing an interim injunction that barred it from demolishing shanty towns across Abaco until a Supreme Court judge delivers her decision on a judicial review on the demolition of the unregulated communities.
The government position is that the judge was wrong and there were “several errors” in the court’s decision.
Fred Smith, QC, doesn’t hold back in his thoughts on the move, saying it is “nothing more than an abuse of the process of the court” – and that the actual written judgement might even arrive before the hearing of the appeal, as it is currently being written.
He said: “This appeal may therefore be academic and it is going to be an extremely costly appeal for the government itself, for the appellant and for the time of the judge and the Court of Appeal… What more abusive use of the court’s precious judicial resources than to persist (and) for what?”
He’s right. Let the court get on with making its decision rather than wasting time on an appeal that might not be relevant by the time it’s heard.
The government may win its case entirely, so let the judge decide.
Of course, governments seldom lose favour by looking tough on migration, so even if it throws another bucket load of money at this case, there will be few who criticise them for doing so.
What we would say however is that this is a case that does need a resolution. Arguing over the interim injunction is neither here nor there in the bigger picture – although it does affect those caught in the middle. What we need is a decision on the larger case.
There are issues of dealing with migration that need a substantial overhaul, and ensuring the law is clear so that it can be followed both by migrants and officials is a big step along the way.
There is far more that still needs addressed – including the catalogue of concerns over the years about alleged abuses at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre, about detainees who have been beaten, held illegally or who have gone missing.
This court case is just one part in that larger picture – but for goodness sake, just let the court get on with its decision. The difference in time might be no more than a few weeks, so let us have a considered verdict, not a short-term challenge.
Another saga that has been long rumbling is the Grand Lucayan deal.
Officials are apparently hoping to soon bring that to a conclusion, with Tourism, Investments and Aviation Minister Chester Cooper saying that the government is in the final phase of discussions.
These discussions are of course a year and a half after a deal was signed by the Minnis administration for a $300m investment. The pandemic has been cited as a reason for the delay – but that same deal sits there still signed.
We all hope that a future for the Grand Lucayan can be secured. It can be a significant cornerstone in the Grand Bahama tourism market. But the delays and uncertainty have dragged on for a long time now. We see other hotels boasting of 90 percent occupancy this Thanksgiving weekend, and the Grand Lucayan still sits there with its future uncertain.
We wish Mr Cooper well in these latest discussions – even though he calls the previous agreement “egregiously bad”. It will be interesting indeed to compare any deal he negotiates with the one he found so terrible.
That said, those who will feel the difference most will be the workers of Grand Bahama if the hotel succeeds, not just the hotel staff but those in the surrounding economy.
It will be a major boost for the area indeed if it can be a success, and we should all wish for nothing less.