Blame the Grand Bahama Port Authority, not the FNM or PLP

Dear Editor,

I would appreciate if the editor would print this letter of concern in your prestigious newspaper. Thank you.

I read with keen interest a letter by Mr. Ortland Bodie that was published on April 8, concerning the dismal economic state of Grand Bahama in general and Freeport city in particular.

Mr. Bodie and others in the capital should visit the second city in order to dialogue with the frustrated licensees of the Grand Bahama Port Authority to gain a better understanding of why Freeport is being given the “stepdaughter” treatment.

At this point, now, it makes no sense in pointing fingers at the five FNM representatives or even at the PLP, as we have been changing governments every five years and nothing has changed.

The time has come for the Bahamian government and the Bahamian people to stop ignoring the elephant in the room on Grand Bahama and start calling a spade a spade.

It is the Grand Bahama Port Authority, which acts as the quasi government in Freeport, which must bear the brunt of the criticisms for Freeport’s sorry state.

There hasn’t been one major investment in Freeport in over 15 years, while the two major tourist attractions, Port Lucaya and the International Bazaar, are rundown.

At this stage, it is looking like the sole reason for the Port’s existence is to collect taxes, which are excessively high. It has long been suggested that investors are afraid to invest in Freeport because of the exorbitant tax fees the Port Authority charges.

Making matters worse are the high docking fees at the harbor, which is co-owned by the Port and Hutchison. When seven to eight cruise ships are docked in Nassau Harbour, there may be two docked at the harbor in Freeport.

The PLP, under Mr. Perry Christie, tried to revive Freeport with the Memories Resort at Grand Lucayan, but that deal ended up falling through owing to some logistical challenges with Hutchison Whampoa.

The FNM, under Dr. Hubert Minnis, has tried, with the purchase of the resort on the Lucayan strip at $65 million and an additional $35 million of taxpayers’ money.

It is time Freeport is opened up like New Providence and the rest of The Bahamas. This can be made possible if the incoming PLP government scraps the Hawksbill Creek Agreement, and move on from the Port Authority.

That organization has lived past its sell by date by at least 20 years.

Thank you for allowing me to express my views, which are shared by many of my fellow port licensees.

— Disgruntled port licensee

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