By: Rt. Hon. Hubert Ingraham
25 April 2011
My Fellow Bahamians:
On behalf of my wife Delores, my family and myself, I wish you and your family a blessed and happy Easter. May this season of spiritual renewal inspire in all of us a spirit of gratitude for our many blessings and an equal spirit of generosity and service, particularly towards the more vulnerable in our society.
At the end of May the National Budget for 2011/12 will be presented. At that time I will discuss in more detail the national economic outlook. This will include job-creation and the expansion of economic opportunities as the country continues to recover from the worst global economic downturn in the memory of most Bahamians.
Further, in short order, I will address the nation on crime, including the strengthening of existing facilities and the introduction of new measures to combat violent crime, an alarming murder rate, and a culture of criminality.
Tonight I wish to speak to you about the massive infrastructural work being undertaken in New Providence.
The new Straw Market is almost complete; its completion will make way for the creation of a major Urban Park on the site of the tent which now houses the Straw Market.
We are simultaneously undertaking a comprehensive and systematic upgrade of the Supreme Court Building, and the Hanzard, Senate and Parliament buildings. And, the recently-acquired Ansbacher Building is being renovated to better accommodate additional courts and the Supreme Court Registry.
To improve the delivery of health care, we are completing upgrades to the Accident and Emergency facilities at Princess Margaret Hospital. A new critical care block will also be constructed at PMH at a cost of more than $30 million.
It will include an Intensive Care ward for paediatric and adult patients, and six new operating theatres. Work is also being completed on a new Geriatrics and Child Rehabilitation Unit at the Sandilands Rehabilitation Hospital.
The removal of all freight terminals from Bay Street and their relocation to Arawak Cay is the linchpin for the various elements of the revitalization of downtown Nassau.
The relocation of the Betty K shipping operations from the centre of Nassau to the new cargo port at Arawak Cay, ahead of schedule, has fortuitously assisted in the early commencement of significant infrastructure upgrade in the centre of Nassau.
We are acting to improve the daily quality of life for the nearly 250,000 Bahamians and residents who live in New Providence and the several million annual visitors to our shores.
We are modernizing outdated and decaying infrastructure and installing measures such as CCTV to help bolster public safety efforts in the fight against crime.
We are helping to spur economic development generally and revitalizing our tourism industry.
We are enhancing and beautifying our capital island and its natural environment.
We are expanding and enhancing open spaces, green spaces, beach areas and parks to provide children, young people and families with safe, modern recreational amenities.
We are embarking on making the City of Nassau a modern city, showcasing its history and heritage, because its current condition is unbecoming of The Bahamas.
We are doing all of this as efficiently and as cost-effectively as possible, with most of these major capital works on time and within budget.
My Fellow Bahamians:
My Government began the New Providence Road Improvement Project in 2001, some 10 years ago. The postponement of the completion of the project between 2002 and 2007 has resulted in an increase in cost for the project of approximately $50 million dollars, which is the total amount it will cost for two of the next phases in the redevelopment of the Queen Elizabeth Sports Centre.
We are transforming New Providence and the historic City of Nassau into more than a world-class destination. We are seeking to make our capital island an urban centre that works in terms of basic infrastructure, and that is a safe and inviting environment for artistic and cultural expression with an extensive network of parks, heritage sites and windows to the sea.
We will do all of this, and much more, as we make New Providence greener and cleaner, more beautiful and more environmentally sustainable. Even as we appreciate the enjoyments and advantages that city living offers, we must respond to the challenges of urbanization, inclusive of human services and well-being, infrastructure, livability and aesthetics.
It is the intention of my Government to make New Providence, the site of our nation’s capital, clean, beautiful, sustainable and functional. The things we build are not ends in themselves. They are the indispensable means to improve the quality of life of the Bahamian people and add to the enjoyment of our visitors.
My Fellow Bahamians:
Work continues along Blue Hill Road north of Wulff Road and south of the Water Tower, and on Market Street, Robinson Road, Prince Charles Drive, Marathon Road, Abundant Life Road and Soldier Road.
When the installation of the new 24-inch water main is completed along Robinson Road up to the intersection of Prince Charles Drive and Fox Hill Road, not only will users of that corridor (pedestrians and motorists) benefit from an improved roadway with sidewalks but residents in the eastern end of New Providence will finally have access to improved water quality and pressure.
In the south, the installation of a new water main along Soldier Road will improve water quality for communities along that corridor. The water works scheduled along Soldier Road will commence on Tuesday, 26th April, and take place in three phases: from Blue Hill Road to East Street, from East Street to Abundant Life Road, and finally from Abundant Life Road to Prince Charles Drive.
The road will be reinstated and paved at the completion of each segment and before the commencement of the next segment of works. Additionally, I advise that this work will be undertaken during the night, that is, between 7.00 p.m. and 5.00 a.m. Sundays through Thursdays thereby minimizing traffic disruptions during peak day-time traffic and on weekend nights.
Just last week, we signed a contract for road and utility upgrades that will augment the transformation of the Queen Elizabeth Sports Centre into a world class sporting and athletic complex. These upgrades are essential to make the new Tommy A. Robinson National Stadium operational and useable.
Works being undertaken in the Oakes Field area include water and sewerage upgrades to the Yellow Elder and Millennium Gardens communities and also electrical services upgrades through the installation of new underground utility lines.
Road improvements resulting from that contract will include the following:
- An enhanced entrance with parks and open green spaces leading from Thompson Boulevard to the Sports Centre which will be linked to the Tonique Williams-Darling Highway along an enhanced Yellow Elder Way;
- A new road extending from a new roundabout at the Government High School that will link the Queen Elizabeth Sports Centre with the New Providence Highway now referred to as Bethel Avenue.
- An extension of Moss Road will link Thompson Boulevard and Blue Hill Road, while a new connector road will link Moss Road to the round-about at the Government High School; and
- Considerable new parking areas, drainage systems, and landscaping throughout the entire area.
Happily, most of the new road works in and around the QE Sports Centre will be greenfield operations with little to no impact on the present flow of traffic.
I note in this regard, that improvements to the current road leading to the Government High School will not commence until after the end of the school year and it is anticipated that the works will be completed ahead of school opening in September of this year
A new four lane corridor, to be named the New Providence Highway, was constructed on a greenfield site. The highway links Saunders Beach in the north with JFK Drive at the six-leg roundabout and continues southward to the Tonique Williams-Darling Highway roundabout, where it connects with the Milo Butler Highway leading to Carmichael Road. In time the New Providence Highway will be extended to Cow Pen Road.
We will soon commence the new four-lane Airport Gateway Highway, the first phase of which will link the LPIA to the new six-leg roundabout.
In the west, Bay Street is being diverted at or near the Development Bank to facilitate the redevelopment of Cable Beach by Baha Mar. The new diverted West Bay Street will be connected to JFK Drive by a new connector road extending to the intersection with Gladstone Road.
Other improvements to a number of street junctions along West Bay Street are also scheduled.
In the East, improvements are scheduled for a number of street junctions along the East Bay Street corridor: East Bay/Village/ Shirley Street; East Bay/Newgate; East Bay/Johnson Road; East Bay/Fox Hill Road; and also at the William/Shirley Street and the Village/Soldier Road intersections.
It is to be acknowledged that the presence of underground electricity cables, some condemned, and old water mains, again some condemned, has meant that work has had to progress carefully, deliberately, and hence slowly so as not to disrupt those utility services even as we seek to improve and upgrade them.
I am painfully aware that these works are proving very disruptive to the lives of many residents and business persons who live and work along affected road corridors or who typically traverse them to and from their jobs.
I am also aware that even where work is nearly complete, additional refinements are required to improve access and parking for some business establishments. I assure you that all concerns are recorded and will be addressed to the extent possible to satisfy affected establishments.
It is critically essential for major water and sewerage work to be undertaken on Bay Street from Nassau Court to Mackey Street and a number of side streets. These works can no longer be postponed. These works are therefore set to commence on Tuesday, 26th April.
The work will take place at night between 7.00 p.m. and 5.00 a.m. Sunday to Thursday so as to minimize traffic disruptions on Friday and Saturday nights.
At the completion of each day’s schedule the necessary upgrades, backfilling, reinstatement and cleanup of the road will be undertaken. The works will require certain road deviations from time to time, and I ask once again for your patience and forbearance as we seek to modernize our capital City.
The first phase of the works will affect Bay Street between Marlborough/Nassau Court and Parliament Street. These works will take some 20 weeks extending from 26th April to the 19th October.
The second phase of the work will extend from Parliament Street to Victoria Avenue and will be undertaken between 19th October, 2011, and 13th March, 2012. I note that the project will be suspended during the Christmas Season, that is, between 12th December, 2011, and the 2nd January, 2012.
The third phase of the works will extend from Victoria Avenue to Mackey Street and will take some 25 weeks beginning on the 13th March, 2012.
Once completed, Bay Street and our city centre will be at a standard appropriate for our capital City of Nassau and will put us in a better position to meet new challenges expected in the tourism sector.
The infrastructural work we are doing is essential. We cannot allow our capital city to fall into further decay. To do otherwise would put at risk our economic well-being.
I know that during these works many people are being inconvenienced, I apologize to residents and businesses impacted by these necessary infrastructural upgrades and ask for your continued patience as we seek to bring you improved services. When it is all done every one of us will benefit in terms of better utilities, better roads, better recreational spaces and a better environment for expanded economic activity.
My Fellow Bahamians:
Nassau is the centre of Government. The Queen’s Representative, the Executive, Parliament and the Judiciary are located there; so also is our country’s financial centre and its principal harbour — one of the busiest cruise ports in the Caribbean. All are located in this city, on this island of New Providence.
The health of this city and of this island is clearly vital to the health and well-being of our nation.
Restoring the heart of our nation is critical to ensuring continued growth and security of our economy. It is more than roads, sewers and utilities; it is the nerves and sinews, the very fabric of our national character. That is why we rehabilitate, restore and upgrade it.
We cannot truly modernize New Providence without the extensive upgrades of these networks of roads and utilities.
Our efforts on capital works and road and utilities upgrades have not been perfect; they often met problems – this was to be expected. But our goals have been on course: to make more efficient, beautiful and livable our island capital, home to 60% of Bahamians, and our major tourism centre with nearly five million visitors annually.
When these works are completed, Nassau will be one of the most modern, efficient and cleanest capital cities in our Region.
The City of Nassau is over 300 years old. It was in the late 17th century that Governor Nicholas Trott renamed Charles Town as Nassau, formally laying out the township for the first time and erecting its first fort.
Over the ensuing three centuries Nassau has undergone many changes moving from gas lanterns to an electrified city and from watering holes for carriage horses to parking for motor vehicles.
Every generation of Bahamians has a historic summons to preserve the essence and, yes, magic of traditional and historic Nassau while modernizing its infrastructure amenities and basic utilities.
This is our time. This is the time to fix problems of which we have long complained, but did not have the will to tackle. This is the time to move from talk to action and from procrastination to determination.
That determination and privilege, and indeed our obligation, is to leave our Bahamas better than we met it and to bequeath to our children and future generations a legacy of which we and they will be proud.
Essentially, we are building a new New Providence in the most ambitious transformation and modernization programme ever in Bahamian history. In so doing we are honouring its history while preparing for its future.
This is what the unprecedented ambition of the New Providence Transformation and Modernization Programme is about – providing for a better future. When all is said and done, and after the disruptions are over, and the road and other works are complete, we will have a new capital island in which we can take even more Bahamian pride.
The alternative to the temporary disruptions is to have never begun the work in the first place and to have allowed our infrastructure to decay even further, choking economic growth, creating even more urban problems and allowing the Bahamian people to live with sub- and below-standard public amenities.
A responsible government could not continue to follow the path of least resistance, delay and procrastination. We had to act, and act now to secure a better future for ourselves and our children.
Bahamians carry a love for Nassau in their hearts, and in our mind’s eye and imagination we have a vision of what we want a modern City of Nassau to feel and look like. But what we are doing is not only visionary, it is vision in action.
Over the years many people have dreamt of and planned for the revitalization of the City of Nassau. Today, the efforts of our collective Bahamian imagination are bearing fruit
As I close I wish to recall that our capital island is named for Providence, God’s and nature’s protective care. Indeed the word provident is defined as providing for the future.
Let us ask the God of Providence to continue to bless our Bahamas and our shared future in a spirit of love and unity.
Thank you and good night.