The government is exploring a multibillion-dollar opportunity in the southern Bahamas to establish a major port on Mayaguana that could provide services equivalent to those offered at the Panama Canal, Minister of Transport Renward Wells revealed yesterday.
Wells, who was speaking at the Bahamas Engineers, Architects and Allied Professionals’ (BEAAP) stakeholders forum at the British Colonial Hilton, noted that the Panama Canal acts as a central shipping hub to make routes shorter for shippers of commercial goods. The canal connects the Pacific Ocean with the Atlantic and its connected surrounding bodies of water.
The minister said a similar opportunity to the Panama Canal is available to The Bahamas, if a port is built on Mayaguana.
Wells added that the government wants to see much more Bahamian participation in the design, engineering, construction and management of Nassau’s cruise port. The request for proposals (RFP) process for the redevelopment of the port ends today, meaning the world will soon get a look at the future redesign of the Caribbean’s busiest cruise port and the beginning of a critical revitalization of downtown Nassau.
Wells also mentioned the government’s search for a managing body for a port on Abaco.
“The government is looking for a group to manage the port, but we want individuals who will bring the requisite experience, because we don’t just want to offload it to just anyone, but someone who can operate a world-class shipping port,” he said.
Again, he stated that this port is an opportunity for Bahamian engineers as well and other professionals to expand their horizons.
According to Wells, The Bahamas’ sovereign waters extend 200 miles into the Atlantic Ocean and are an underutilized, exclusive economic zone.
“We are having some issues because there are some other nations in the Caribbean seeking to encroach on that,” he said.
“One just made a claim to the U.N. (United Nations) that I think is just absolutely ridiculous, but obviously they are seeking greater fishing grounds and rights. At the end of the day it is ours, and we as a people will defend our rights.”