Despite a recent statement by Deputy Prime Minister Chester Cooper that modular offices for displaced workers at Grand Bahama International Airport (GBIA) have arrived and will be installed “in short order”, individuals familiar with developments at GBIA — or lack thereof — question why those trailers are sitting on the ground unused many weeks after their arrival at the facility, which remains in a state of disrepair nearly three years after Hurricane Dorian.
Frequent flyers, pilots and others who pass through the airport are puzzled by Cooper’s statement, noting that the trailers have been sitting on the airport property for two months.
“They showed up around the end of April,” Ricky Munnings, a pilot, told Grand Bahama News.
Munnings claimed that in speaking with workers at the airport, he learned that parts for the complete installation of the modular offices are missing.
“They work on a track system, which they must be loaded and set in place on,” he said.
“I understand that the track system did not arrive with the trailers.”
Modular offices, also called modular trailers, are mobile office complexes that are easily transported from site to site. The units are durable and designed to withstand harsh rain, wind and natural disasters.
Munnings, like many Grand Bahamians, lamented that going on three years, the airport remains “a disgrace”.
He believes that if the island is going to rebound, conditions at the major port of entry need to be addressed with a greater sense of urgency.
“There are still potholes on the runway and taxiway,” Munnings said.
“Night flights are still not being permitted. It is simply issues like this that should have been taken care of. We have potential investors coming to the island and the first thing they see is the unacceptable conditions at the airport.”
Cooper, the minister of tourism, aviation and
investments, made the comment about the arrival of the modular offices in response to criticism made by Opposition Leader Michael Pintard about the state of the airport.
“Since coming to office, our administration has done the following: ordered modular offices for displaced workers. Those units have arrived and will be installed in short order,” Cooper said.
He was answering Pintard’s call for the Davis administration to lay out the plan for the redevelopment of the airport, which was badly damaged in the 2019 hurricane.
Pintard, the member of Parliament for Marco City, called on the Davis administration to move quicker in addressing the facility’s transformation.
Cooper said the former administration, of which Pintard was a part, allowed the airport to sit for two years before purchasing it.
“And then, they did nothing up to the time they were voted out of office,” he said.
Cooper said the airport is in better hands now than it was during the previous administration.
Requests for clarification from Cooper on the trailers and a timeframe for the installation went unanswered.
Businesswoman Miriam Knowles, who travels twice a month to Nassau, said she took note of the trailers as they were neatly lining the area near the domestic terminal.
“They have been sitting there for more than a month now,” Knowles said.
“So, when I read Mr. Cooper’s comments, it was not made clear whether they were recently ordered and just arrived to be installed.
“He made it appear that way and that is why I am confused because I have seen them sitting there. However, I hope they would move quickly to fix the airport because conditions out here are bad.”