Exuma Ferry Bridge Repairs Addressed
GEORGE TOWN, Exuma, The Bahamas – Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Hubert Ingraham said the structural deterioration on the bridge linking Great and Little Exuma, commonly called “Ferry Bridge,” is of concern and is being looked at to see whether repairs or a rebuild are necessary.
“All of the children who go to high school have to cross this every day (as the school bus can no longer traverse the bridge) and there are probably about 600 to 700 persons living in this part of Exuma,” Prime Minister Ingraham said in Exuma, on February 27, 2011.
Prime Minister Ingraham led a delegation to the island and they visited other sites for infrastructural development, such as the old naval base site and the dock in George Town and water supply area in Williams Town, Little Exuma.
Also in the delegation were Minister of State for the Environment the Hon. Phenton Neymour, Minister of State for Land and Local Government the Hon. Byran Woodside, senior government officials, outgoing Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China Hu Dingxian and representatives of the China Harbour Engineering Company.
Prime Minister Ingraham said even though the bridge was not one of the projects that the Bahamas Government had asked the Chinese Harbour Engineering Company to look at, he thought it would be useful if they would inspect the bridge.
“We hope to be able to get their opinions and suggestions,” Prime Minister Ingraham said.
“We have some suggestions as to whether or not this bridge is capable of being repaired or whether it needs to be reconstructed.
“Obviously, from our point of view, if it can be repaired economically, that would be our preference; but if it cannot, then the question of replacement will have to be addressed.”
The company is currently looking into projects for both a new port and bypass roads on Exuma and Abaco, and work on the bridge in North Eleuthera.
Prime Minister Ingraham said the financing for those projects is expected to come from the China Export-Import Bank and it will be a design / build contract, with the work expected to start this year in North Abaco, then the Exuma project is expected to commence next. Minister Neymour said that the lives of the 600-700 Exumians in the area have been affected because of safety concerns and the fact they had to put weight restrictions on vehicles crossing the bridge.
“As you know, Little Exuma is developing; so it has impacted some of the development in the area,” he said.
“In order to carry a tractor or a tank of water, we have been hampered in that regard.
“It is very important that we address this bridge, as it has proven to be critical to those residents of Little Exuma.” Prime Minister Ingraham added that the Department of Public Works will also be providing information on the bridge to the Chinese Habour Engineering Company team that is on the island; so that a plan could be arrived at in the best possible and thorough way.
“The other project that we are going to ask them to look at is the Fishing Hole Road, in Freeport, Grand Bahama – between Freeport and going towards Eight Mile Rock – because every time there is bad weather, it makes it almost impassable,” he said.
“We are going to let them look at that project the same time they are in The Bahamas.”
By ERIC ROSE
Bahamas Information Services