Minister of Works and Utilities views stalled capital works in West Grand Bahama

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IN NEW COURT ROOM – Minister of Works and Utilities, Hon. Alfred Sears (center), along with Minister of Social Services and Urban Development, Hon. Obie WIlchcombe (left), Minister of Grand Bahama, Hon. Ginger Moxey (second from right), Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Works, Bacchus Rolle (third from left) and Senator Kirkland Russel (second from left) view one of the two courts in the proposed courthouse being constructed in Eight Mile Rock. Minister Sears and his delegation toured the facility on Friday, October 22, 2021.

FREEPORT, Grand Bahama — Minister of Public Works and Utilities, the Hon. Alfred Sears said a tour of capital works in West Grand Bahama has given his ministry a sense of extreme urgency, because he’s gotten a deeper understanding of how important those capital works are.

“We’re asking the contractors to, where possible, accelerate the work,” said Minister Sears.

The Minister’s remarks came during a tour of capital works in Freeport and in West Grand Bahama on Friday, October 22, 2021.  Minister Sears, along with Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Works, Bacchus Rolle; Director of Works, Melanie Roach; Family Island Officer, David Cox; and Senator Kirkland Russell toured the Garnet Levarity Justice Center to view completed work on the courthouse.

The delegation then toured Grand Bahama Post Office to look at work that has been carried out thus far, and also got an update on what remains to be done to complete the work there.  They drove to Eight Mile Rock, where they were met by Minister of Social Services and Urban Development and Member of Parliament for West Grand Bahama and Bimini, the Hon. Obie Wilchcombe, who took them on a tour of the Government Administration Complex, Courthouse and Police Station.
The delegation also got a close-up view and inspection of Holmes Rock High School and got updates from contractors on the progress of the work. The delegation then drove to West End to look at road works being carried out in that constituency.

“Not only are these projects critical for the people of Grand Bahama, but projects like the Holmes Rock High School are critical to education,” said Minister Sears. “We know that there are many people in this country who are living in difficult circumstances. Parents are unemployed, sometimes homeless, without any electricity, with no access to the internet, so these facilities are part and parcel of the salvation of our country.”

The new Holmes Rock High School will accommodate students of four primary schools in West Grand Bahama, namely West End Primary, Holmes Rock Primary, Martin Town Primary and Bartlett Hill Primary schools.

Before beginning his tour of capital works, Minister Sears met with local staff members of the Ministry of Works in Grand Bahama. He said that the meeting was an opportunity to get to know the employees and to listen to some of the concerns they have had over the past few years.

Minister Sears said that he, along with Parliamentary Secretary, Bacchus Rolle, will take back to Cabinet the concerns of the employees of the Ministry of Works in Grand Bahama, as well as inform the Cabinet of works that need to be completed.

“I want to publicly say ‘thank you’ to these team members, because they made us so proud as they have weathered the storm of Hurricane Dorian,” said Minister Sears. “From some of the stories that I heard, many of those team members were severely affected by the storm and some lost everything. Yet, they showed up every day after that and did their jobs.

“When we serve in these positions, we’re not engaged in ceremony.  We are here in a critical time – especially now – and when we assume this responsibility, we have an obligation to get to know what is happening in our country and to get to know the team members in our offices, who are responsible for carrying out these works.”

Minister Wilchcombe pointed out the importance of having the new Government Administration Building, courthouse and police station built in Eight Mile Rock.

“The new Administration building is state-of-the-art and will house all of the government entities here in Eight Mile Rock; and so it is an economic issue, because if everything continues to be in Freeport, then the economy of Eight Mile Rock will not grow,” said Minister Wilchcombe.

“So, it is really an economic stimulant for further growth of West Grand Bahama, particularly in Eight Mile Rock. The old Administration complex will become a cultural center.”

Minister for Grand Bahama, Hon. Ginger Moxey said that a number of the projects had been delayed for a while, for one reason or the other, but added that now the Government will ensure that work is restarted on the projects and that significant progress is made.

Director of Works, Melanie Roach said the new Holmes Rock High School is expected to be completed in June 2022, giving the Ministry of Education and teachers enough time to have it ready for the opening of school in September of 2022.

“With regard to the new Administrative Complex, there are some financial issues that need to be worked out,” added Ms. Roach. “That project is a public-private partnership and we’re working with the private partnership, as well as the Ministry of Finance, to establish the balance of funding required to complete the building and once that is done, then we will have a better understanding of the time frame of when that project will be completed.”

ENTERING POLICE STATION – Minister for Grand Bahama, Hon. Ginger Moxey (right) and Minister of Works and Utilities, Hon. Alfred Sears (left) enter a hallway that leads to the proposed police station, located in the courthouse in Eight Mile Rock, next to the new proposed Government Administration Building. Minister Moxey led Minister Sears and his delegation on a tour of the courthouse and police station on Friday, October 22, 2021.
LOOKS AT POST OFFICE – Minister of Works and Utilities, Hon. Alfred Sears (eft) and Director of Works, Melanie Roach are taken on a tour of the Post Office in Freeport, Grand Bahama by Architect Carlos Butler, October 22, 2021.