Transport and Aviation Minister Fact-Finding In Freeport

FREEPORT, G.B. — To get a true picture of the transport and aviation business as it relates to Grand Bahama, Transport and Aviation Minister Glenys Hanna-Martin made an official visit to that island on Friday.

Minister of State in the Ministry of Transport and Aviation Hope Strachan; Minister for Grand Bahama, Dr Michael Darville and the Permanent Secretary, Melvin Seymour accompanied Minister Hanna-Martin.

Permanent Secretary, Diane Lightbourne; Port Controller, Commander Patrick McNeil; and Controller of the Road Traffic Department, Philip Turner were also part of the delegation.

The Minister and the delegation went to work early carrying out a tour of the Grand Bahama Airport and the Department of Meteorology beginning at 7:00am, before paying a courtesy call on the president of the Grand Bahama Taxi Union.

She later visited the Port Department before moving to the Freeport Container Port, chatting with a number of workers there during the walk-about.

While at the Port, Minister Hanna-Martin and her party boarded a Freeport Harbour Company Pilot Boat and visited other neighbouring firms, including the Grand Bahama Shipyard, Bradford Marine, Bahama Rock Limited, Cemex Bahamas and BORCO’s Jetty.

Her tour also included a visit to the Freeport Post Office and the Road Traffic Department.

The Transport and Aviation Minister was very impressed with the state of workers at the Freeport Container Port, of which 99 per cent are Bahamians.

“What I was most interested in, and was sort of inspired to see, was the set of technically trained Bahamians, men and women, engineers, most of them from Grand Bahama.”

She said the high level of achievement that those Bahamians have attained, gives an insight of the possibilities for Bahamians if the investment was made in education and training.

During the tour, Minister Hanna-Martin was able to see first hand the importance of the industrial area of Grand Bahama including the Shipyard repair facility to the Bahamian economy.

She said, “We in our Ministry are now looking to develop a National Maritime Policy, which will touch every aspect of the use of the oceans and the seas, including science and technology, but also the economics of trade and shipping and that kind of things.”

Minister Hanna-Martin added that the Government has an understanding with the Container Port and others on creating a program to train Bahamians in the maritime fields.

She said the Government would like to see that really take off.

Minister Hanna-Martin reiterated that there is an abundance of talents in the country that can only be explored through investment in the people.

“I think if we do that, you will see The Bahamas take off in a way it would blow minds, and I am not exaggerating. We will blow minds in this country if we begin to take ourselves seriously and begin to put some monies and investments back into who we are.”

Minister Darville added that he has already toured the industrial parts of the island and is quite aware of its importance in providing employment for individuals in Grand Bahama.

“It is very important that the Minister of Aviation and Transport comes to Grand Bahama because her portfolio deals with maritime. It also deals with transport on the ground and as well as aviation.

“The Hutchison Whampoa group of companies is the managing partner for the harbour as well as the airport, and so it was important to get a close bird’s eye view of what is really happening in Grand Bahama.

“I think this particular visit clearly demonstrate to that because now we have already visited the airport and now we are completing our tour of the harbour and that has brought to light a more greater dimension of what the industrial sector on Grand Bahama has to offer.

“For the last few years, it has been affected by the global economic crisis and a lot of what Grand Bahama has to offer in the industrial sector is now in our view going to be exploded as a result of new partners coming into to Grand Bahama to actually get it back and going to where it was in the past,” Minister Darville said.

By Simon Lewis
Bahamas Information Services

Transport and Aviation Minister Glenys Hanna-Martin is pictured centre along with senior officials from her ministry, and top executives from the Freeport Container Port as they toured that facility last Friday. Next to Mrs Hanna-Martin is the Minister of State in the Ministry of Transport and Aviation Hope Strachan. Pictured left is Minister for Grand Bahama Dr Michael Darville.   At right is Container Port CEO, Godfrey Smith.  (BIS photo/Vandyke Hepburn)