Association of GBPA licensees awaiting government response to its concerns

Association of GBPA licensees awaiting government response to its concerns

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — An association of Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA) licensees is hoping to secure a meeting with Prime Minister Philip Davis in light of statements by the government that have sharply criticized the GBPA.

According to the Concerned Freeport Licensees Association (CFLA), these statements have been perceived by many licensees as a potential threat to the livelihood of Grand Bahamians.

More than 160 licensees and supporters attended its education seminar Monday night on the Hawksbill Creek Agreement (HCA), with concerned stakeholders discussing the future of Freeport, its economic well-being, and the importance of preserving Grand Bahamians’ livelihoods.

The CFLA was formed just eight weeks ago in response to the volley of releases by the government—which promised “decisive,” yet non-specific, action—and the GBPA—which sought to clear its name.

“I love this island and I’m not going anywhere. My family prospered here, and I want my children and their children to do the same,” prefaced CFLA member Kirk Antoni.

“But we can only achieve this if we stand together, educate ourselves, and speak out for what we want. As licensees, we are very much stakeholders in this and we are calling on the Government and GBPA to work together and, indeed, take decisive action that reaps the material and progressive change we are looking for.”

The Association emphasized that the CFLA is an independent organization and not affiliated with the GBPA.

“Like many Grand Bahamians, we have concerns about the current state of the city,” explained Darren Cooper, CFLA member.

“However, we firmly believe in the potential of a functioning HCA, using the mandates and concessions granted to Mr. Groves and subsequently to the Hayward and St. Georges families for the benefit of our community.

“Our seminar last night aimed to educate our fellow licensees about the historical facts surrounding the HCA and the growth and development of our city under the regulation of a functional GBPA,” added Cooper.

Dillon Knowles, a CFLA panelist, stated: “We have issues with the two families, with transparency, and our administrators. The HCA provides us with a ‘3rd agreement,’ in which local licensees must agree or approve of any changes, and that precludes parliament as well.”

The CFLA wrote that its mission is to unite the approximately 3,000 Grand Bahama Port Authority licensees, educate one another, and work collaboratively to improve Grand Bahama.

The CFLA said it contacted the Government and the GBPA for meaningful engagement via correspondence.

To date, the association has only met with the GBPA. Their outreach to the government so far has been successful.

“We remain hopeful that this will change, and we look forward to our request to meet with Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis at his earliest opportunity. We believe that through open dialogue and cooperation, we can address ongoing concerns, listen to each other’s aspirations, and work together to restore the magic to our fair city,” said Antoni.