NASSAU,BAHAMAS – There is tremendous interest being expressed within the business community over the resumption of commercial operations on Abaco, according to Chamber of Commerce president Ken Hutton, who noted however that basic infrastructure is still lacking.
“There is tremendous interest being expressed within the business community about getting back up and running,” said Hutton yesterday.
“It’s not happening at a quick pace and a lot of it has to do with the fact that the infrastructure for the business community isn’t here yet. We just got the port opened last week. The airport is still not open to international traffic.”
He continued: “We don’t have any banks and we don’t have any food stores. There is one hardware and building materials place that is semi open. The basic infrastructure for businesses business still hasn’t started back here yet.”
Hutton underscored the reopening of the Leonard M. Thompson International Airport to international traffic is critical to ensuring the tourism industry can begin to rebound.
“It’s critical if we want to get tourists back here,” he said.
“We have to get the airport back open to international traffic. Again, business persons are willing and able to begin the rebuilding process. Again its just a matter of having them be able to access the things they need in order to do that.”
Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar said yesterday that a specific date to resume airport operations for international traffic is “still being worked out”.
“Obviously what we are trying to do is get the airport into a position where it is secure,” D’Aguilar said.
“The problem with the airport was that there was 21,000 linear feet of fencing around that area and it was blown down and destroyed. It is very important for an airport to be secure for a number of reasons.
“Of course the Americans want it to be secure for flights to go to and from the United States. We are working diligently to source that amount of fence, to involve as many Abaco firms as we can to get it up and running. That is really the one last hurdle to do but as to a specific date I don’t know,” said Mr D’Aguilar ahead of a Cabinet meeting yesterday.
Aviation Director and Abaco Redevelopment Co-Coordinator Algernon Cargill confirmed to Eyewitness News Online last week that despite Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis’ directive for the airport to be reopened to international traffic by the end of last week – the green light from the United States’ Transportation Security Administration (TSA) had not been given.
“We have to identify risk factors, and given the urgent need to reopen the airport, that we can open the airport according to our plans.
“We’ve identified all of the remediation that’s required, and the safety compliance issues as a result of the hurricane – for example the fencing that’s down,” said Cargill at the time.