Lawyer: GB needs a functioning airport

By DENISE MAYCOCK

Tribune Freeport Reporter

dmaycock@tribunemedia.net

A Grand Bahama attorney is concerned that the island would not be able to support any significant sustainable investment projects or developments “without a properly functioning airport”.

In a press statement, lawyer K Brian Hanna said: “I do not see our elected officials moving with any sort of urgency to solve the crisis here in Grand Bahama.”

He said the airport is an essential element to the development of Grand Bahama.

“Given the conditions in Grand Bahama, people would have expected that the Grand Bahama Airport would be up and running by now or at least some explanation given by our elected officials when it will be fully operational.”

“What is the point of announcing to the public that the Grand Lucayan Hotel and Casino will open soon or the construction of a medical school when there is no port of entry for investors to utilise?” Mr Hanna asked.

In October, the government also announced that it signed an HoA with Western Atlantic University School of Medicine for a new multi-million campus in Freeport.

Earlier this year, RCL and ITM Group signed a letter of intent with the Bahamas Government to purchase the hotel and redevelopment of the harbour. Negotiations are continuing between them and the government.

The project is expected to attract millions of visitors to the island when completed.

However, Mr Hanna asked how visitors would get to Grand Bahama, “or what it will cost them to visit our beautiful island that we so willingly gave up for someone else to control and care for who are not elected officials”.

The Grand Bahama Port Authority and Hutchison Port Holdings are joint owners of the Grand Bahama Airport Company, which operates the GBIA. Hutchison has said it will not spend any money to restore the airport, which was ravaged by Hurricane Dorian.

The terminal buildings were underwater and sustained extensive damage as a result of storm surge. Temporary facilities have been set up at the airport to accommodate domestic and international flights.

Mr Hanna asked what is the point of investing in the tourism industry when the government is not in control of how tourists would arrive.

“Why would any government give up control of their borders? I propose that if they can together with a comprehensive plan going forward to construct an airport on Grand Bahama out of the Port Zone that they are fully in control of and have full ownership of,” he stated.

The attorney said that Grand Bahama is an “unbelievable” state. He noted that the island has so much potential for sustainable development.

“It is a pity that we are not utilising our resources. Our elected officials have to be more aggressive and be prepared to make decisive decisions and follow through to the end,” he said.

“They are the ones who asked and campaigned for the job to represent us. They are the ones who made all the promises of a better Grand Bahama with jobs for everyone yet people are leaving Grand Bahama daily not just because of Hurricane Dorian, but because of lack of jobs,” Mr Hanna claimed.

“They are the ones who claim that a considerable amount of investments are coming to Grand Bahama (that has yet to be seen).

Mr Hanna claims that elected officials have not been moving with any urgency to solve the crisis in Grand Bahama. “Quite frankly, they have not done anything whatsoever otherwise than to make announcements one after the other,” he said.