Opposition: Post office relocation a bad idea

Opposition Leader Philip Brave Davis said the government’s proposed plan to relocate the general post office to the Town Center Mall is a complete disservice to the Bahamian people. He claimed that the five-year lease that is presently being offered will only serve as a “gift” to the owners of the mall.

During a press conference yesterday, Davis recalled that the previous administration attempted to lock down the mall location for the post office but their efforts did not materialize.

“The Progressive Liberal Party rejected the Town Center Mall as the place for the post office because of the cost and  because of engineering concerns,” Davis explained.

“Work was being done to provide a proper place at the old Independence shopping plaza. The contract was signed, the owner expelled his tenants, he lost considerable sums and we believe that the losses to the owner will be in the nature of some $13 million or more.

“His $13 million is to be added to the substantial sums which will be expended to repair and refurbish the Town Center Mall.”

According to Mr. Davis, the Mall is listed for sale and given what is to be spent, it appears to the opposition that the so-called concessionary rate for rent is not that at all. Davis referred to the rate as a “gift to the owners of the mall” who will, after 5 years, be left with a substantially improved asset.

“In these circumstances, the Government should go back to the independence shopping center project and resume work there so that the post office workers can be put in a proper premises at a sensible cost to the Bahamian people,” Davis said.

Davis further stated that he also had to point out the obvious conflict of interest involving the Minister of Immigration, Brent Symonette, and his part ownership of the Town Center Mall.

“This is a pattern of conduct by this FNM government. They are quick to accuse others of corruption and self-dealing, but refuse to acknowledge it amongst themselves,” Davis said.

Now while Davis maintains that the post office should  instead be placed in the Independence Shopping Center, he admits that there still remains a number of unanswered questions involving the mall’s leasing arrangements.

“There a number of questions we are not clear on, we do not know the number of square footage that will be subject to the lease; we do not know yet who will be responsible for the renovations and the cost of those renovations.”

Last week, Transport Minister Renward Wells tabled a resolution in the House of Assembly to seek approval for the government to enter into a five-year lease with the Town Center Mall owners.

Davis noted that in previous talks with Mall owners during the PLP’s governance, they estimated mall renovations to be some $4 million.