The General Post Office’s new location at Town Centre Mall appears to be nowhere near completion.
The Nassau Guardian visited the mall yesterday during a scheduled media tour with members of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP).
Sounds of jackhammers and drills permeated the inside of the building, where scaffolding was erected, and walls and ceilings were still being installed.
While parliamentarians and media personnel were allowed in the door, they were not allowed to tour the building without hard hats, safety glasses and steel toe boots.
The date for the relocation of the post office from its East Hill Street location to the Town Centre Mall was delayed several times.
The move was initially slated to begin last December, but was delayed to January.
In January, Minister of Transport and Local Government Renward Wells said that the relocation was delayed until February.
At the time, he indicated that the government’s inability to move post office boxes contributed to the delay.
However, based on the observed state of the space, it seems that there are more significant issues delaying the move.
There have been no recent updates on when the relocation will happen, but Wells told reporters yesterday, as they tried to engage him outside Cabinet, that he would make an announcement on the matter next week.
PLP Leader Philip Brave Davis yesterday blamed the delays on politics.
“The PLP is very concerned about the prolonged delay in regularizing postal services in New Providence and the negative impact this is having on postal workers, businesses, the general public and the economy at large,” he said.
He added, “This straightforward project was turned into an expensive disaster from the beginning because the FNM (Free National Movement) was motivated and driven by partisan politics, special interest and not the public interest.”
Davis, who served as minister of works under the Christie administration, said he believes there are months to go before the space is ready.
He further asserted that if the former administration’s plans had been allowed to progress, the post office would have been ready in December 2017.
“This administration met a process in place where ultimately the Bahamian people would have owned a custom-built and designed building to facilitate 21st century postal operations,” he said.
“We draw this wanton dereliction of public duty by this FNM government to the attention of the general public today.
“Had the incoming FNM government not interrupted the retrofit project at the former Independence Shopping Center, that project would have been completed and the Bahamian people would have enjoyed regularized postal services around December 2017, more than one year ago.
“Additionally, the glaring conflict of interest involving a sitting minister of the Cabinet is an ongoing concern, a decision by the government not supported by the opposition caucus in Parliament.”
Last year, the decision to relocate the post office to Town Centre Mall was met with controversy, as Minister of Immigration Brent Symonette and his brother are the principal owners of the mall.
The government intends to lease 75,000 square feet of space for the “concessionary” rate of $12 per square foot or $900,000 a year.
The landlords have taken on the $3.5 million cost of the ongoing renovations.
Education: Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish