Freeport a forgotten city

Dear Editor,

Freeport used to be called ‘the magic city’ eons ago.

Its vibrancy and economic success were the envy of the region and, indeed, the entire world.

Bahamians from all walks of life and diversity were literally breaking down doors to gain entry and a foothold in what was then a booming economy and place of choice to live.

It was the Bahamian dream big time. Alas Freeport and Grand Bahama have now become nightmares of gigantic proportions under all governments to date.

It is far beyond my pay grade to comprehend much less understand why policymakers and politicians have treated that fabled city and once dynamic island like a step-daughter or worst.

At the rate the incumbent regime is going it looks like the five seats in Grand Bahama will be flipped in favor of the Progressive Liberal Party.

The Free National Movement may well be wiped out down there. Why is this possible?

Grand Bahama generally and Freeport in particular are able to make a dramatic comeback under certain circumstances in my opinion.

First and foremost, Grand Bahama International Airport must be acquired, refurbished and rehabilitated within the shortest time possible.

Secured airlift into Grand Bahama is key to the revitalization of the economy down there and The Bahamas across the board.

Secondly, the Grand Lucayan MUST be disposed of now rather than later. The $100 million that we have spent so far on that whitest of the white elephants could have been spent on more essential items but it is what it is.

I predict a disaster if the current chairman of the SPV overseeing the Lucayan attempts to actually open and manage that property. He has no expertise with running a mega hotel or even a small cottage. Bring in an equity partner who would also be able to manage the same.

Government could retain 51 percent and the partner 48 percent and the remaining two percent could be held in trust on behalf of the so-called Sovereign Wealth Fund.

Thirdly, the original objective of the Grand Bahama/Freeport dream, the industrialization of that primely located island, should be revisited with a view to rapid but coordinated expansion.

A couple of canneries should be established/facilitated for canning peas, corn, corned beef, tuna and all sorts of other items which grow in abundance and in the wild. We as a people are too lazy and depend too much on economically dumb politicians and civil servants.

Grand Bahama has been treated like the proverbial step-daughter for too long.

It is time that Cindarella step out of the closet, again, in her full glory and finest form.

Who, however, will be the prince in this dynamics? Will he be a dead tired and clearly exhausted Minnis or will it be a focused and fresh Brave?

Ortland H. Bodie, Jr.

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