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Mitchell slams Grand Bahama Port Authority - says a new investor is needed

Foreign Affairs Minister Fred Mitchell.

Foreign Affairs Minister Fred Mitchell.

By DENISE MAYCOCK

Tribune Staff Reporter

dmaycock@tribunemedia.net

PROGRESSIVE Liberal Party Chairman Fred Mitchell said the Grand Bahama Port Authority lacks the financial resources to maintain Freeport and that a new investor is needed.

Mr Mitchell criticised the GBPA for the three-year delays in repairing the Casuarina Bridge in Grand Bahama on Friday.

His comments are a continuation of the Davis administration’s criticism of the GBPA.

He noted the Casuarina Bridge hasn’t been fixed since Hurricane Dorian struck the island in 2019.

“The reason why I am standing here is because the Grand Bahama Port Authority is saying they have the wherewithal to keep this city going,” he said in a video. “And, this lack of repair of the bridge shows you they simply are not able to demonstrate they have the financial wherewithal to keep this city going.

“And the government has said enough of us subsidising the GBPA, we need to find someone who has the wherewithal who is willing and able to finance the needs and promotions of this city.

“If they can perform, under the Hawksbill Creek Agreement, fine; but if they can’t, someone else needs to be asked to do the job.”

The Casuarina and the Jack Hayward bridges connect Freeport and East Grand Bahama.

The Casuarina Bridge, which spans the Grand Lucayan Waterway, sustained extensive damage during Dorian. In late 2020, Lucaya Services Company Ltd (LUSCO) and Grand Bahama Development Company (DEVCO) engaged All Bahamas Construction (ABC) to complete repair work at approximately $1.9m. However, changes in the scope of work increased the total cost to $2.8 million, an increase of $900,000.

On Wednesday, the GBPA pushed back against the Davis administration, saying the government does not subsidise the authority.

“The GBPA, in fulfilling its industrial development, various regulatory and environmental oversights, and city maintenance mandate, is funded exclusively by its approximately 3,000 licensees,” the authority said.

“When adverse events such as hurricanes and the recent COVID pandemic cause a deficit, the shareholders of GBPA have always funded the deficit.”

“The government of The Bahamas is not subsidising the GBPA when providing healthcare, education, aviation, and assistance with tourism in Grand Bahama, as it is likewise obligated to do so for every other island in our country.

“While the GBPA has built schools, donated land for government projects, assisted with the hospital, and constructed the island’s airport, these were never a responsibility of the Grand Bahama Port Authority under the Hawksbill Creek Agreement, but an act of a strategic partner.”

The GBPA said it wants to cooperate with the government to resolve issues.

Mr Mitchell, however, refused to relent. 

“It is very unfortunate,” he said. “I knew Edward St George and Jack Hayward and, outspoken as they were, they were not politically inept, and it seems to me there is an ineptitude on display here when a private company tries to take on an administration in this way over something which is so politically and economically charged,” he said.

“It is ill-advised, unwise, and it cannot benefit their company in the long run.”

“They have to know it is manifestly untrue. They know it and we know it.”

Comments

The_Oracle 7 months, 4 weeks ago

The king of mis-truths and mis information strikes again! There are two bridges across the Grand Lucayan water way, the original bridge is being worked on, the new bridge is fully functional. Fred is singing for his supper, but supper from whom? Who does The P.M. have waiting in the wings to "take" private assets from their owners? Freeport for all its issues is still miles ahead of Nassau and other out islands vis a vis crime, infrastructure, cleanliness, quality of lifestyle, and physical distance from Government. (no matter the party) One only has to look at east end Grand Bahama, beyond the bridge to see Government ineptitude and abandonment. Same for the west beyond Freeport Harbor. Oh how they covet that which they cannot create or maintain. This issue may well be the undoing of this administration. Bring forth the hidden driver of the bus so we the people can judge their suitability to govern Freeport! Be Brave!

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moncurcool 7 months, 4 weeks ago

Mitchell needs to stand in front of the high Rock and McLean's Town schools and talk of how the government cannot even rebuild those schools before pointing fingers at the GBPA.

You are correct, he is the voice of mistruths and misinformation.

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regrolli 7 months, 4 weeks ago

Last I checked, Grand Bahama was part of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas. With the Minister of Foreign Affairs so focused on GBI, it must be true what they say: Central Government really does consider Grand Bahama 'foreign'. Minister Mitchell, respectfully, your comments are divisive and are helping no one, least of all the residents of Grand Bahama whose interests you so passionately purport to represent. The shameless and unsubstantiated commentary clearly designed to devalue Grand Bahama is also compromising its residents. And, for the record, I have never not been able to drive from Freeport to East End: ever!

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FreeportFreddy 7 months, 3 weeks ago

So this government has a bunch of real issues that they are stumbling massively on. The way they are going to address those issues is to create a different one where the people (from Nassau) may rally behind them for standing up to the big bad Port Authority.

HOWEVER - the real issues will still be there and will not be addressed by this government and the people will be none the wiser!

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Sickened 7 months, 3 weeks ago

This yapping poodle needs a muzzle.

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BMW 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Poor Fweddy, he must have been rejected by someone in the port! But that is a subject I leave to Cassius V. Stuart to discuss with Fweddy. Before you beat up your gums about the port take a drive to the west and visit our largest settlement on Grand Bahama. How does the pothole riddled road feel? Keep going west and check out the school in Holmes Rock that started two administrations ago,(that is over 10 years) right now government cannot even come up with the money to complete the project. Drive further west and check out West End and tell us what in Gods name has this administration done for the people in these settlements?

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ExposedU2C 7 months, 3 weeks ago

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ExposedU2C 7 months, 3 weeks ago

The Tribune now suppresses any and all truth about the likes of Franky Wilson a/k/a Snake, Allyson Maynard-Gibson a/k/a Wicked Witch of The West and slime ball corkscrew Fwreddy Boy Mitchell. Talk about throttling free speech that might be harmful to advertising revenue!! LMAO

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ExposedU2C 7 months, 3 weeks ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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