FREEPORT, Grand Bahama, The Bahamas – A new Road Traffic Department office will be opened in Grand Bahama by the end of August, announced Minister of Transport and Housing, the Hon. JoBeth Coleby-Davis during her contribution to the 2023 Budget Debate on Wednesday, June 21.
The Minister identified the departments under her Ministry before addressing each one. She is responsible for The Air Accident Investigation Authority (AAIA), the Bahamas Meteorological Department, the Road Traffic Department, the Post Office Department, the Port Department, and the Department of Housing, along with the Bahamas Mortgage Corporation, the Bahamas Maritime Authority and mailboat service operators.
Grand Bahama under the Bahamas Meteorology Department, she said, received two weather stations which were installed in Freeport and East Grand Bahama. During this budget period, of the six new automatic weather stations to be installed, one will be in the new airport in the Berry Islands, Central and North Abaco and North and South Abaco. The sixth will be installed in North Andros.
Describing the mailboat service as critical to the economies of Grand Bahama and the Family Islands, Minister Coleby-Davis said, “For residents in communities like Lewis Yard and McLean’s Town in Grand Bahama; Rock Sound in Eleuthera; George Town in Exuma; Sugar Loaf in San Salvador; and Matthew Town in Inagua; packages from family members are shipped weekly. Small businesses like Sea Winds Supermarket in Petty’s Long Island; People’s Groceries in Bullocks’ Harbour, Berry Islands; Evan’s One Shop Convenience Store in Lowe Sound, Andros; San Salvador Home Centre in Bonefish Bay, San Salvador; and Lincy’s Sweets N’ Treats – a bakery in Colonel Hill, Crooked Island, the mailboat services brings much needed inventory and supplies.”
The Minister continued, “The Davis administration understands the connectivity to the capital is essential for economic, socioeconomic, and infrastructural development of Family Islands and, as such, mailboat services have and will continue to play a vital role in this venture, having the potential to speed up the recovery and restoration process for islands that have been impacted by hurricanes – like Abaco.”
After reviewing complaints and petitions from Family Island residents, the Ministry will be introducing additional mailboat routes, expanding existing routes and increasing the number of vessels on existing routes.
“The new routes include Grand Bahama to North Abaco, and Grand Bahama to Bimini. The expanded routes include Grand Bahama to the Abaco Cays, and the increase in the number of vessels on existing routes include New Providence to Acklins and Crooked Island; New Providence to Inagua and Mayaguana; New Providence to the Berry Islands; and New Providence to South Long Island.
“The additional mailboat services will not only be instrumental in the shipment of materials for infrastructural development, but also in transporting food, specialized equipment, and people to support the labour component of the government’s economic expansion programme.”
Minister Coleby-Davis added that her Ministry will also address contractual issues with mailboat operators and in so doing, will close loopholes “thereby binding mailboat services to their statutory obligation to the government, and vice versa. Their new contracts will give the government greater control over mailboat activities, in terms of ensuring adherence to maritime policies, and the Ministry of Transport and Housing’s (Port Department) regulations. The new contracts will also give residents and businesses on Family Islands an improved level of customer service.” (BIS Photo/Anthon Thompson)