Long island woes pt. 3
As I previously mentioned in an article published recently, many of our past and current politicians hailed from Long Island.
Here are a few that come to mind, including the esteemed Dame Ivy Dumont, former minister of education and governor general. Frank Watson, former deputy prime minister; Larry Cartwright, current ambassador in New York and former minister of agriculture; Tennyson Wells, chairman of the Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Science Institute (BAMSI) and former minister of agriculture; and Peter Turnquest, deputy prime minister and minister of finance.
These are only a few that I can recall at this time, but I am sure there are many more that have been in high positions in the government with enough influence to make a difference, so really when you ponder it, it’s not that Long Island didn’t have some big players to make things happen, but Long Island still remains in the doldrums and no matter what it remains loyal to its political party.
Long Island has some beautiful lands, beaches and hills that can be seen for miles, with one or two houses that sprinkle the landscape, so much land that the title is so convoluted it’s very difficult to get the families together – some holding hundreds and hundreds of acres of land that can be used for major developments – but getting clean title is not easy.
There has been talk of a major development in the north which has been on the drawing table for a number of years and lots of folks are waiting anxiously for the ground to be broken, as it is promised to give the island a major boost.
This generation property is one of the many problems that needs to be sorted out and at some point, the government needs to step in and come up with a workable solution that can benefit all concerned.
There is so much land in the hands of families – I am talking about hundreds of acres left after the passing of individuals – leaving the problems connected to the property to the younger generation, which tries and in many instances can’t afford the legal work to get it untangled, or are unable to get families together to agree on how the land is to be either developed or shared. The end result is a probable stalemate which in turn will negatively impact the island, as potential investors will be less likely to invest if they are unable to get good and clear title, which often leads to investors usually moving on to other projects with lesser headaches.
The Diamond Crystal Salt Company failed as a result of reasons I am obviously not privy too, however as a young banker in the early seventies when the Royal bank serviced the company it was absolutely thriving.
I am told that the operation of a large salt company in Long Island has its challenges, as the amount of rainfall (40 inches a year) makes it difficult to harvest salt as the rain comes and washes it away, however, my friend who is an expert in salt making indicated that a smaller operation can work and employ a sizeable work force.
On the Diamond Crystal Salt Company site they experimented with shrimp farming and this also failed. Again I don’t know why, but I understand the infrastructure that’s there is ideal for shrimp and fish farming – this is an area that needs to be encouraged to put people to work and grow our economy.
Long Island has an abundance of bone fish and this sport fish is sought after by fisherman with deep pockets. Again this industry needs to be encouraged by giving the local fisherman as much support to be successful. This includes the removal of customs duties on materials including boats and engines.
On average, family islanders pay a dollar more for fuel, which has a huge impact on their bottom line and cash flow. For these businesses to have a fighting chance, the cost of them doing business needs to be reduced and this includes the cost of electricity.
The government needs to get serious and stop paying lip service to our farmers, especially when they take their produce to the packing house, are paid peanuts and have to wait weeks to get paid.
Pray tell, why can’t the packing house pay the farmers their money on the spot or have the money deposited to their accounts in a few days?
It would seem that these poor farmers who toil to make a few dollars have to wait weeks to get paid, but how many of us can endure such hardships?
It seems as though what is needed is an island “czar” who reports directly to the prime minister. The main job of this czar should be to look after the development of the Family Islands, as it is obvious that the present system has not worked in the 52 years since majority rule. It is imperative that we change the narrative and these islanders need to demand more from their members of Parliament and hold their feet to the fire with hopes of getting them to deliver.
You deserve better!
• 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.