PLP bids to ‘kill’ Oban deal

Former West End and Bimini Member of Parliament (MP) Obie Wilchcombe.

If the government was “so desperate” to spur economic growth in Grand Bahama, it should have proceeded with the Carnival Cruise line port as opposed to the Oban Energies deal, according to former West End and Bimini Member of Parliament (MP) Obie Wilchcombe.

Wilchcombe was one of four panelists for the National Progressive Institute of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP), which hosted a forum Monday night said to be aimed at “killing the Oban deal” that the government signed with Oban Energies earlier this year.

Attorney Wayne Munroe, Q.C. and University of the Bahamas (UB) Science Professor Dr. Erecia Hepburn were also contributors.

The port deal, according to Wilchombe, appeared to be put on the back burner by government, but the deal he said, would have provided more jobs when compared to Oban and would have proved to be less destructive a to the environment.

Carnival Cruise Line announced in March 2017 that it would build the largest ever cruise ship facility in The Bahamas – a complete “destination experience” in East Grand Bahama, with a pier for two cruise ships, a one-mile strip of beach and a full complement of recreation activities and retail outlets with enough capacity to accommodate a million passengers each year.

“Where is the Carnival deal?” Wilchombe asked.

“This Oban project is certainly not worth it… Grand Bahama already has two storage facilities for oil, why does it need another? Why not ask the existing facilities to expand?”

Wilchombe reflected on the perceived environmental and health implications of the existing storage facilities on the southern end of Grand Bahama noting that there are many unanswered questions and many living in neighboring communities have birth defects and have died of cancer.

The former MP added that it was also hard to understand why the present administration would say yes to a deal which the former government declined.

“Ingraham said no to Oban and it was also turned down by Christie,” Wilchcombe noted.

“Both men understood the issues that were still unanswered and the deep challenges that still exists.”

Meanwhile Munroe pointed to a number of legal ramifications concerning the deal.

He noted that what was “most alarming” was the suggestion that the Attorney General is expected to give a legal opinion to give the developer satisfaction –meaning that the government would have no “sovereign immunity.” The deal he said was “dumb and dangerous.”

Officials of the National Progressive Institute said, the forums are important to get all sides on important national issues.

Despite the government’s commitment to stop the deal if the environmental impact assessment (EIA) is not favorable, opposition members say the deal should not even be considered.