Bannister defends ongoing roadworks in New Providence

Bannister defends ongoing roadworks in New Providence
Minister of Works Desmond Bannister (file photo)

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – As roadworks through New Providence continue to frustrate the motoring public, Public Works Minister Desmond Bannister yesterday insisted the end result will serve the country “for decades to come”.

Areas like Nassau Street have seen ongoing road works over the past few months.

Motorists have also complained about the poor state of East Street and Village Road.

Speaking to reporters outside Cabinet on the matter, Bannister said: “We couldn’t do the work on Nassau Street until such time as BPL had dug it up and run a cable to the Pointe.

“We had an obligation to provide power at a certain level to the Pointe. That is very expensive. It was costly and took a long time to do.

“We are satisfied that the power that is running to the Pointe is sufficient for their operations.

“Now that that has been done, all the utilities have come in, Water and Sewerage has come in, Cable has come in, everybody has come in, telecommunications and so now we can pave Nassau Street.”

However, Bannister noted that Village Road is quite a bit more complex.

“Not only will we have to go in and do all the utilities, we don’t know what is under Village Road,” he said.

“We have some consultants looking and making determinations on how best we can find out what is under Village Road.

“We have a whole plan to upgrade Village Road.”

The public works minister said over the next year there will be engineering studies completed on Village Road along with upgrades to all utilities.

“It is a whole process,” Bannister continued.

“We are going through to ensure that these roads like Nassau Street, East Street and Village Road are able to serve this country for decades to come. That’s is what we are doing now”.

Bannister told The Tribune earlier this week that the government must invest $40 million in roadworks throughout The Bahamas “just to get through this year”, in order to plug “a huge hole” in deteriorating infrastructure.

During a press conference at the party’s headquarters yesterday, Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Leader Philip Brave Davis called these comments laughable.

“This is an admission by the minister that the government was starving infrastructure and refusing to put money on the ground; pay contractors and civil servants in a futile attempt to reach some elusive deficit range at the expense of national development which includes ongoing maintenance of public infrastructure and superstructure,” Davis charged.

“We told them this was a bad one as it was not sustainable.

“We urge them for the last thirty months to put money on the ground, put Bahamians to work and allow capital to flow through the economy.

“Until now, our unsolicited advice has fallen on deaf ears”.

In May last year, during a national address, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert announced that the government had launched an extensive roadworks program throughout the country that would see significant infrastructural changes.

At the time, Minnis noted that among those roads to see significant reconstruction are Gladstone Road and major thoroughfares including Tonique Williams-Darling Highway, between Bethel Avenue and John F. Kennedy Drive and Baillou Hill Road between Soldier Road and Cowpen Road.

Minnis also announced that the government was planning to establish a traffic management center that would observe “changes in traffic flow patterns and/or volumes; adjust signal timings to optimize the performance of the junction or signalized corridor and collect daily traffic data on a continuous basis”.

The status of that initiative remains unclear.