Long Island woes pt. 2
Long Island is blessed with many fine sons and daughters included but not limited to merchants, airline pilots, bankers, accountants, electricians, plumbers and lots of politicians!
Long Island builders are strewn through the islands constructing multimillion-dollar homes, government docks, sea walls really any major building project I can guarantee you will find a Long Island hand in it.
Most of these have been started by the parents, which have been passed down to the children to build on what was started by the fathers and mothers who came from Long Island. Many of these business have started from the bottom and ended up an empire, similar to the likes of Carl Treco, a fine gentleman who has since passed on, but has left the company in good hands with his sons.
Carl Treco was a well-known contractor building up his construction business; he also got involved with the Long Island Association, which helped to assist those least fortunate on the island through the sales of raffle tickets and the Long Island Fair which is held each year.
There are lots of Carl Trecos who have distinguished themselves as excellent business people and good corporate citizens.
So one has to ask the million-dollar question: With so many successful Long Islanders, why hasn’t the island developed like its northern cousin Abaco?
Some have gone back and built homes and some attempted to open business on the island, but at the end of the day they did not last and one of the reasons is there was not enough of a population to support them.
As I previously mentioned, the island was one of the last to get electricity and only now running water is now being piped in parts of the island; cable TV and internet is now available to those who can afford it.
Once the young people are finished school they don’t hang around too long, instead they head to Nassau and Grand Bahama to earn a living. There is simply nothing for them to look forward to regarding finding employment on Long Island.
The last several years has seen the closure of a number of schools, as there isn’t enough children to justify keeping them open. The bright side is the children have classes with no more than 16 of them, compared to a class of 30 to 40 in Nassau, which certainly accounts for the good grades they get in the national exams.
To add to the further demise of the island, the two banks Royal Bank of Canada and Scotiabank have left, only to be replaced by ATMs and web shops which are scattered through the islands. These gambling houses are kept busy as they seem to be the hope of those left behind to make a hit. Sadly as we all know the gambling houses are always the winners, adding to the woes of those who play and lose.
Travelling to Long Island is not cheap, especially as there are no international flights. Those tourists that make the trek to the island have to go through Nassau, adding tremendously to the cost of their holidays.
The non-Bahamians who come to Long Island fall in love with its natural beauty and see the benefit of constructing a second home; they can bring in all the materials including appliances duty free.
Some go even further and build a second or third building, which they rent out to friend who tells their friends and before you know it there is quite a traffic of holiday makers booking accommodations that I understand can go as high as $250 a night for two bedrooms and these are booked months in advance.
Unfortunately the food store merchants don’t fare too well with these tourists, as most of them prepare their own meals and when arrive they come with supplies to last them the entire trip; fresh vegetables is the most that the store owner can look forward to in sales.
Deadman’s Cay Airport in the words of a local is nothing more than a large outhouse, whose only change in 57 years since it was built is a coat of paint. However, according to news reports the airport is scheduled to be upgraded in the near future.
There is no emergency equipment, as I found out when a aircraft I flew in several years ago crash landed and ended up in the bushes; funny thing my friend ‘Snooks’ was at the airport when he saw my plane approaching the airport and he wondered why it was taking so long to get to the terminal. I called him on his cell to let him know the plane had crashed and was in the bushes; then the police came. Luckily no one was hurt but one has to wonder what if there were injuries, how it would have been handled.
Long Island, like most of these southern islands, has no emergency vehicles like fire engines and ambulances, unlike Eleuthera and Abaco which through donors and volunteer firefighters there are ambulances and fire engines.
When governments are unable for whatever reason to provide this essential life-saving equipment, persons living there or Long Islanders who reside in Nassau and Freeport have to assist their cousins living in Long Island in getting emergency services and equipment.
With all the high-ranking government ministers that hail from Long Island, why haven’t their efforts to bring prosperity to the island of their parents been more successful?
More in the next column.
• William Wong is a two-term president of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation and two-term president of the Bahamas Real Estate Association. William Wong is a partner at Darville-Wong Realty. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.