August 9th, 2009
By: The Committee to Protect and Preserve The Bahamas for Future Generations.
Subject: The Government’s Town Meeting August 6th 2009.
The Government’s town meeting held on Thursday of last week was a waste of time, an insult to the intelligence of right thinking Bahamians and an outright failure. If part of the Government’s objective was to address concerns and answer the myriad of questions Bahamians have surrounding the movement of the container port to Arawak Cay, and the significant impact of the extension of Arawak Cay, they failed miserably.
It is now blatantly clear that neither the Minister of Works, The Minister of The Environment or the Minister of Tourism have any answers. In fact, the town meeting has raised more questions, and instead of bringing clarity has created more confusion. Over the past week, and at the meeting, it was embarrassing to witness Ministers of the Government contradicting themselves. No wonder the public is confused. The Minister of Health says it may be unsafe for persons to swim in the surrounding area of the dredging and the Minister of the Environment says that is not so. The Minister of Works says there will be no causeway and the Minister of the Environment reads a letter from the Prime Minister to the owners of the Arawak Cay Development Company which clearly states as a condition to approval of the container port going on Arawak Cay that an alternative access to Arawak Cay be created.
This failure by three Ministers of the Government has reinforced the committee’s initial assertion that the move of the container port to Arawak Cay without credible scientific and financial analysis makes no sense. The lack of transparency and the government’s withholding of critical information involved in this decision has lead many Bahamians to suspect that there may be some level of corruption at the highest level in Government.
How else can one explain this mad dash to extend Arawak Cay? They could not even wait for the dredging to commence so they have dug a two acre hole in the middle of Arawak Cay and they are using that fill to commence the extension. The Government is yet to give a reasonable explanation for the movement of the container port to Arawak Cay and the commencement of the extension to Arawak Cay without:
1. A proper Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) presented to the public for analysis and discussion;
2. an Environmental Management Plan (EMP) to manage the damage to the sea grass, coral, beaches and surrounding areas;
3. a traffic, noise and pollution study;
4. a firm estimate of the cost;
5. a financial feasibility study;
6. The disclosure of where the causeway will connect Arawak Cay to West Bay Street;
7. The contract between the Government and the Arawak Cay Port Development company.
It is obvious now, that the only two persons in the government who have any answers are the Deputy Prime Minister Brent Symonette, who appears to be the master mind behind this scheme to move the container port to Arawak Cay, and Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham. Bahamians are now left to wonder whether the Prime Minister has acted as a facilitator to the Deputy Prime Minister and whether he is complicit in this conspiracy to secretively enrich a special interest group at great expense to the Government’s purse, the environment and the property value of hardworking Bahamians.
After attending the town hall meeting we are convinced that having a debate on the movement of the container port with any of the three presenting Ministers would be a waste of time especially since the Minister of the Environment, who has taken it upon himself to be the Government’s spokesperson, appears not to know his left hand from his right. We now invite the Prime Minister and The Deputy Prime Minister to come clean with the Bahamian people and we invite them to a debate on this matter.