Hon. Glenys Hanna-Martin outlines the great transformation and reform in her ministry now underway!
2015/2016 BUDGET HIGHLIGHTS
GOVERNMENT OF THE BAHAMAS
Commentary by Elcott Coleby
The Hon. Glenys Hanna-Martin, Bahamas Minister of Transport and Aviation addressed the House on 9th June 2015 on the 2015/2016 budget.
As expected, port development dominated the Minister’s presentation as she updated the House and the country on the government’s policy initiatives designed to totally transform the country’s aviation and maritime sectors while modernizing the delivery of public goods and services across the aviation, postal, meteorology and ground transportation sectors.
“My Ministry’s singular objective is to create modern administrations in the maritime, aviation, postal, meteorology and ground transport sectors even within the context of fiscal constraints and other limitations and restraints.
”We are pressing to create safe and secure modernized systems of transport to facilitate social and economic growth and prosperity” said the Minister to House members.
“These mandates of governance” continued Mrs. Hanna-Martin, “require systemic overhauls and fundamental reforms and comes within the context, unfortunately, of sustained neglect and deterioration over many years.”
Highlights of the Minister’s budget presentation are as follow in bullet point format for ease of reference.
RESTRUCTURING OF THE ENTIRE AVIATION SECTOR
Four independent entities will be created to govern the sector.
Civil Aviation Authority: Responsible for industry regulations
2nd legal entity: Responsible for airport management nationwide
3rd legal entity: Responsible for investigations of air accidents and incidents
4th legal entity: Responsible for air navigation services.
The draft legislation to create these legal entities governing civil aviation has been completed and the Bills will be tabled in Parliament within the next few months.
The installation of the $11 million state of the art radar system at the LPIA has been completed. A $2.5 million back up MSSR system and a 3D Tower simulator have also been completed and both are scheduled to be officially commissioned in July 2015.
Transport Ministry under current Minister Hon. Glenys Hanna-Martin supervised the completion of the last 2 phases of the LPIA project since May 2012. This was a huge project undertaking by the Minister and is the center piece of a modernized Bahamas aviation sector. The 2 last phases are the International and Domestic Departure and Arrivals terminals including the Customs and Immigration clearing facilities.
A life sized bronze statue of Sir Lynden Pindling to be unveiled at the LPIA on 9th July 2015. The cost of the statue is $74,000
International Airport in Marsh Harbour, Abaco finally completed and fully staffed.
Emergency runway lighting systems have been installed at the remaining Family Island airports. The airports are in Mayaguana; Fresh Creek, Andros; Stellar Maris, Long Island; Rum Cay and Ragged Island bringing the total to 23 Family Island Airports now capable of accommodating night flights.
Mayguana airport runway repaired and Bahamasair has resumed flights after a 5 year absence. A 4,500 sq feet terminal building to be constructed as part of the heads of agreement between the government of The Bahamas and the Mayaguana developer, the I-Group out of Boston, Massachusetts.
Bimini international airport runway extended from 5,400 ft to 6,400 ft in addition to the construction of a new airport terminal building that is nearing completion.
Airport Managers have been deployed at airports in Exuma, North Eleuthera, Marsh Harbour, Treasure Cay, San Salvador and Bimini in an effort to build capacity and improve the level of service in the aviation industry.
Negotiations with the government of the United States on the Flight Information Regime (FIR) are nearing completion. The final FIR agreement would layout the management regime of Bahamian air space and compensation to the government of The Bahamas for the use of Bahamian air space by commercial airlines and others.
Several air service agreements with China, Canada and other countries are in various stages of negotiation.
Refurbishment of airports in North Eleuthera; Governors Harbour; San Salvador; Staniel Cay, Exuma (PPP); George Town, Exuma; and Stellar Maris, Long Island are in various stages of development. Exuma to break ground during first quarter of 2016.
Master plans with 20 year projections have been commissioned for the busiest airports in the Family Islands namely Exuma, North Eleuthera, San Salvador and Governor’s Harbour. Completion date is July 2015.
Over 18,000 marine vessels are registered in The Bahamas but the port department’s administration and management of the movement of these vessels are still manual processes. Request for Proposals (RFP’s) for the automation of the Port Department will be released in the coming months.
An enhanced regulatory frame work is also underway. Specifically the Small Cargo vessel code; the Water-skiing and Motor Boat Control Act; the Boat Registration Act and the Port Authorities Act to be tabled by December 2015.
Eight Mile Rock anchorage now require mandatory use of Pilots. At least 10 highly trained and qualified but displaced Bahamian marine pilots were re-engaged as a result of this new parliamentary order.
Ten new enforcement officers will be engaged at various beaches to oversee Jet Ski operations to ensure the safety and security of tourists and patrons generally.
Potters Cay Dock is being refurbished in three phases: 1st phase involves impro ved traffic routing, 109 parking spaces, boardwalk, sidewalks and drainage system. 2nd phase involves a dockside roadway, designated freight drop off and pick up spot and perimeter fencing. 3rd Phase: New Causeway, extension to Fish and Farm store, passenger waiting facility with restrooms and a security booth.
Approximately $400,000 will be spent this year in training and in scholarships to exceptional young Bahamians in maritime studies.
Draft national maritime policy completed.
MODERNIZING THE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM
The valuation of the public transportation sector is complete. The next step in the process is the design of a structure for the new transportation system in the form of a unified bus system. A Pilot project to test run the new transportation system model will be rolled out in several months. Standards have been established for the new public transportation system.
The Road Traffic Act is being amended to reflect a modern transportation system. The draft Bill is expected to be brought to Parliament by the end of the upcoming 2015/2016 fiscal year.
The Road Traffic Department is now undertaking traffic studies for several small islands and cays such as Bimini, Harbour Island, Hope Town, Guana Cay and Green Turtle Cay.
The era of automation at the Road Traffic Department has begun with Data Torque and Bahamian owned Network Security Consulting Group. The project will take 18 months to complete at a cost is $8.3 million.
In an effort to protect the most vulnerable of road users namely small children in school zones the Department in conjunction with the Ministry of Education has trained and put in place crossing guards at Yellow Elder Primary, E.P. Roberts Primary, Columbus Primary, Albury Sayles Primary, C.W. Sawyer Primary and Carmichael Primary:
Two new surrey operators are being trained on scholarship in the United States at a specialized Farrier school in the provisions of proper foot care for horses. The surrey operators are due back in Nassau at the end of June 2015.
The Ministry is also in the process of identifying a communal stable for the horses and standardizing surrey operations for The Bahamas.
Surrey passenger fares have increased from $6/hr to $15/hr for adults and $10/hr for children.
The Post Office automation initiative commenced on 8th June 2015.
The commercialization of the Post Office is being initiated with the establishment of an international Fast Mail and Package company. The legal framework is being finalized by the Office of the Attorney General.