Nassau, The Bahamas – Mailboat owners and operators have agreed to resume operations to the Family Islands after accepting The Bahamas Government’s proposal to reduce sailing times to three times per month or once every 10 days.
A large number of the owners and operators suspended inter-island operations earlier this week as a result of rising diesel prices. The Government subsidises mailboats to transport goods to the Family Islands.
The Minister of Public Works and Transport, the Hon. Neko C. Grant met with some 17 representatives of the Mailboat Owners and Operators Association on Wednesday. A press conference followed the meeting. Senior officials included Permanent Secretary Colin Higgs and Undersecretary Elizabeth Keju.
“There is an amount budgeted each year for mailboat subsidy but because of financial challenges we are experiencing we are not able to revise it. That can only come during the budget of next year.
We will continue to pay the monthly allocation to them, but what this does is increase the weekly or each trip,” said Mr. Grant.
The temporary arrangement became effective May 11 and will expire on June 30th when the current budget expires.
“In the ensuing weeks we shall be reviewing what we are able to do as we move forward effective July 2011.”
He thanked the mailboat owners and operators for accepting the offer and for the “invaluable” service they render to the Family Islands, especially those located in the south.
Mailboats previously serviced the Family Islands four times per month.
By Kathryn Campbell
Bahamas Information Services