Govt. eyes water tax and pier, central part for Bahamas and connecting sky bridge
NASSAU, BAHAMAS – In order to boost Bahamian ownership in tourism and boost spending of cruise ship passengers, the government plans to redevelop the stretch of land from Arawak Cay, more commonly called the Fish Fry, to Junkanoo Beach and Long Wharf, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced in the House of Assembly yesterday during the budget debate.
“This new entertainment area for Nassau will result in scores of Bahamians going to the waterfront for entertainment and relaxation of a weekly basis,” he said.
“We will enhance and beautify the area for Junkanoo practices, cookouts, festivals and other events.
“Like Saunders Beach and Montagu Beach, we will enhance the beaches and swimming areas for Bahamians and visitors.
“The House will recall that it is the FNM that first developed Fish Fry, which has been extremely successful.”
With 20,000 cruise passengers calling on the port of Nassau weekly, the prime minister said The Bahamas must find creative ways to attract those visitors to Junkanoo Beach, Fish Fry, the forts and Clifford park, as well as adjoining areas while crossing West Bay Street.
He said the country must step away from poor planning with irregular and poorly erected shacks, but plan for a better future.
According to Minnis, the government intends to expand the development of these areas into a major retail and entertainment center, which is expected to boast enhanced security measures, free Wi-Fi and smart technology to ensure the safety and security of Bahamians and visitors.
“These areas will be transformed into a major retail, restaurant, entertainment and cultural area, in which businesses are owned solely by Bahamians,” he said.
The areas are also expected to benefit from tax concessions for Bahamian businesses, similar to the tax free zones implemented in several inner-city communities.
The government is engaged in stakeholder meetings and is still in the planning stages.
“What we are proposing will mean many millions more dollars for Bahamian business people,” Minnis said.
“Again, I emphasize that this is still in the planning phase.”
Clifford Park plans
Additionally, Minnis said the government is eyeing the transformation of Clifford Park into a central park for New Providence.
In order to connect the park with the redeveloped waterfront area, the government has proposed constructing a sky bridge that will facilitate pedestrians safely traversing from one area to the next while benefiting from the views of Nassau Harbour.
“Our aim is to continue to beautify and enhance downtown Nassau,” Minnis said.
“Downtown needs to be more exciting for Bahamians and visitors.
“We are also considering the best means possible for the ongoing maintenance of the city of Nassau, which would make the city attractive and more exciting.”
Minnis added, “We must have a dedicated entity or public, private mechanism to ensure that downtown Nassau is better maintained, and the entity must work in conjunction with the Downtown Nassau Partnership.
Water Taxi program
To help boost cruise ship passenger traffic to the redevelopment area, the government is considering options for a water taxi to a water pier, according to the prime minister.
The government plans to hold discussions with the taxi union executive and taxi and tour operators to become owners of these water taxis if pursued.
As a part of the discussion phase, the government plans to fund a group of union executives to visit St. Thomas and St. Martin to review how the water taxi systems in those countries operate.
“Such water taxis will be done in tandem with current taxi operations,” Minnis said.
“The idea is for many millions more to be spent from cruise passengers while in Nassau because there is more to do throughout the city of Nassau and New Providence.”