James Rolle has worked as a wood carver on Bay Street for more than 45 years.
He said this is the first time he’s seen the area in such a poor state.
“I’d say that Bay Street is in an eternal mess,” Rolle told The Nassau Guardian.
“It really needs to clean up. If you’re here like early in the morning, sometimes the first thing that greets you is garbage on Bay Street and Woodes Rogers Walk. If the tourists come off the cruise ship that gives them a bad impression of The Bahamas.”
He said with the current state of Bay Street, Bahamians should be ashamed to say “It’s Better in The Bahamas”.
“You used to be able to say ‘It’s Better in The Bahamas’ and mean it when I was growing up,” Rolle said.
“As a little boy, you had the Haitian them with the wheelbarrow, the shovel and the broom. Bay Street used to be clean. You could’ve [eaten] off of Bay Street. You could’ve [eaten] off Woodes Rogers Walk, but now that’s finished.”
Furlena Burnside has sold straw work at various locations on Bay Street for seven years.
She described the condition of downtown as “deplorable”.
“I just walked on Bay Street and the waters on the side of where the cars are parked shouldn’t be there,” Burnside said.
“You know, it doesn’t smell too good and it has dew in it, so it doesn’t look good or smell good. It’s like someone threw it out and it just settled on the side of the road. There’s a lot of room for improvement down here.”
During his national address on Monday, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis outlined his plans to revitalize the downtown area.
He said the long-term revitalization of downtown Nassau will “require residential properties for Bahamians and residents which is necessary for the growth of other businesses”.
Minnis said, “…In the short and medium term, I have directed the minister of tourism and aviation and the ministry of works and other agencies to present a plan as soon as possible to begin to immediately beautify and clean up Bay Street.”
Joyce Gaitor, the general manager of Blanc du Nil, commended the government’s decision to improve the conditions on Bay Street.
“You know, there’s always room for improvement and I think Bay Street can use a lot of improvement. But that’s just my opinion,” Gaitor said.
“I think it needs to be kept cleaner. Certain places are missing tiles where tourists can fall into it as well as Bahamians, and that shouldn’t be. I think it can be upkept better than it is and The Bahamas is a well-loved place for many – for people who live here and for people who visit – so I think it really should be kept a little bit better.”
Becky Boa, the manager of the Bearded Clam Sports Bar, said the beautification of the area should include a beefed-up police presence to prevent vagrancy and loitering.
“I believe they do need to clean up downtown especially because there are a lot of people who just hang around,” Boa said.
“You know, the jonesers they even come through the restaurant and they ask the tourists for sponsors. They come asking, ‘Hey, give me a dollar’ or ‘Please just spare a dollar or two’ and it doesn’t look very good.”
During a police walkabout earlier this month, Chief Supt. B.K. Bonamy Jr. said police were looking to address safety concerns for tourists and workers on Bay Street.
He said there were concerns about cracks and the unevenness of the roads downtown after incidents where “tourists almost slipped and hurt themselves”.
Bonamy said police were looking at improving the lighting conditions as well as putting a police booth on Prince George Wharf.