PM: No taxpayer dollars for Prince George Wharf transformation

PM: No taxpayer dollars for Prince George Wharf transformation
Two ships docked at Nassau's cruise port. (PHOTO: CRUISEFEVER.NET)

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – As the government proceeds with its request for proposals (RF) for an entity to develop and operate the Port of Nassau, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said during a national address last night the while the ongoing redevelopment of downtown Nassau is tied into the major cruise port project, no taxpayer dollars will be used for the transformation of Prince George Wharf.

“In the redevelopment of Prince George Wharf, the government continue to own the wharf, but taxpayer dollars will not be used in its transformation,” the prime minister said.

“The redevelopment of Downtown Nassau must go from east to west and from north to south.”

As part of the redevelopment, Minnis said the old Main Post Office building will be demolished and replaced by a new Supreme Court Complex, and supporting offices, which the government expects to revitalize the downtown area.

According to the prime minister, the new Central Bank will also be constructed on the old Victoria property.

“Just as with other urban centres around the world, the long-term revitalization of downtown Nassau will require residential properties for Bahamians and residents, which is necessary for the growth of other businesses, such as restaurants, shops, convenience stores and other commercial enterprises.

Minnis did not speak to whether these Bahamians businesses would be offered any additional incentives or concessions to operate in the high-rental environment of downtown.

In the interim, the prime minister said he has instructed the ministries of tourism and works to present a plan to begin to “immediately beautify and clean-up Bay Street”.

“In addition to my personal observances, many Bahamians have reported to me how appalled they are by the state of downtown,” he said.

“I will have more to say on this on another occasion.”

He described the RFP as a significant development that will help to expand and grow the economy in New Providence.

Bids were submitted to the government on December 7 and opened on December 11.

Three entities have submitted bids: Providence Advisors (representing Nassau port partners); Cruise Ports International Ltd, (representing cruise ports international, Carnival, Disney, Norwegian & Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines); and Global Ports Holding Company.

The evaluation process was slated to take 21 days.

Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar said last week that the evaluation committee had selected its pick of the bidders for the project and it was ready to bring the selection to Cabinet, which would deliberate on the recommendation.

The prime minister is expected to make two more national addresses in the upcoming weeks: one on the government’s social agenda, including education, crime, home ownership and housing programs, and another on critical areas of national development, energy reform and the environment.