GRAND Bahama is a conundrum that generations of political leaders have failed to solve.
Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis is the latest to promise to do so. Yesterday, he said his government was determined to ensure Grand Bahama lives up to its potential.
When it comes to that potential, there is a lot of it. Between the cheaper land, the canal network infrastructure already in place, the workforce eager to find jobs and more. And yet, successive administrations have presided over a stagnant economy on the island.
For Mr Davis, there are two big items on the agenda – the Grand Lucayan and the airport. Succeed with both and it’ll go a long way to helping to rehabilitate Grand Bahama. Fail at either one, and his credibility could be shot.
Mr Davis said yesterday that the airport was still a priority, and added: “We could walk and chew gum. While negotiations for the sale of the Grand Lucayan hotel is taking place, we are also at the same time working assiduously to ensure that the airport, the gateway to Grand Bahama, is also in that mix so we’re not just leaving the airport aside to get that done.”
In theory, that sounds good – though it’s worrying that there are still “negotiations” taking place over the Grand Lucayan. That was a done deal. Now it seems somewhat less than done.
Michael Scott, the former chairman of Lucayan Renewal Holdings, suggested recently that the sale had not been finalized because the buyers want a firm commitment on redevelopment of the airport. If that is so, completion of the deal could take some considerable time while the airport development is locked in place.
We already saw under the previous FNM administration a deal for Grand Lucayan that drifted away – the last thing the island needs is for a repeat of that process.
There is so much that could be achieved in Grand Bahama, and the leader that delivers on that will be rightly hailed for doing so.
It would be easy to say that the time is now – but that wouldn’t be true. The time has long come and gone for Grand Bahama to be given an economic kiss of life. Countless opportunities have been missed. Now we have another opportunity. Will this be the time that the nation’s government delivers for Grand Bahama? Or will it roll around to another election with problems still unresolved?
Time and again we have the same discussion about Grand Bahama, just as it seems time and again we see parts of the International Bazaar on fire, just as it was again yesterday.
That’s as much a sign of the neglect of the island as any.
It’s time for all that to change. Mr Davis, it’s over to you.
The police Public and Internal Affairs Officer, Chrislyn Skippings, was blunt and to the point at the scene of another drowning yesterday. She urged parents to “know where your kids are at all times, not sometimes”.
Speaking at the site of a drowning may have felt too immediate while parents are grieving, and perhaps might have been made at a better time, but the point in general is accurate.
More than that, we have seen too many of these drownings – one would be too many, but there has been a number lately. One of the issues the country has – and it shouldn’t, as a nation of islands – is that too many people don’t learn to swim.
A concerted programme to teach children to swim would be an investment in our future. Those children would grow up and teach the next generation to swim, and so on.
It likely wouldn’t be a hugely expensive proposition, and the government could partner with community organisations and churches to do so.
And in the final outcome, it would save lives.