FREEPORT, BAHAMAS – Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said the Smith’s Point Project is part of a broader vision and program for the revitalization and renewal of Grand Bahama.
During the official opening of the newly constructed sea wall in Smith’s Point on Friday, April 5, 2019, Prime Minister Minnis, who was the keynote speaker, said his government is committed to investing in sound infrastructure which supports economic growth and which fosters efficiency and normalcy in the day-to day-lives of Bahamians, while protecting the country’s natural and built environment.
“After many, decades of struggle, neglect, and fits and starts, the Grand Bahama revival has begun,” Dr. Minnis said. “As I have said before, we are at the beginning of this revival, which is part of the Bahamian Revival.”
The Prime Minister pointed out how the historic community of Smith’s Point, where the first “Fish Fry” in Freeport began, has experienced progressive erosion along its entire southern shoreline for many years, adding that hurricane and storm activity have resulted in considerable amounts of sand and water being washed into the roads, causing dangerous driving conditions and an unsafe and unsanitary environment for residents and visitors.
He further pointed out that in 2015, it was decided that a seawall would be built along the shoreline as a preventive measure to mitigate against these conditions.
In April 2016, a tender exercise was undertaken with four construction companies invited to tender for the works. The contract was awarded to Smith Construction Limited.
However, by early May, 2017, the contract was only thirty three per cent completed.
“In order to protect the community’s and the Government’s interests, the Ministry of Public Works decided to terminate the contract with immediate effect,” said Prime Minister Minnis.
“On the 8th of June 2017, a letter of termination was served. The contract termination created a sense of urgency to complete the works due to the imminent onset of the hurricane season.
“Waugh Construction (Bahamas) Limited, a local company, was a part of the original tender exercise. It possessed the logistical expertise to facilitate the project, and was subsequently contracted.
“In August 2017, the contract was signed for four million, eight hundred and forty thousand, and eleven dollars and twenty-two cents with Waugh Construction. The proposed works included a seaward quay wall that would prevent further costal erosion and run-off, and that would add to the ambiance and safety of the area.”
Waugh’s assignment to the project resulted in a further 200 feet added to the eastern end of the original 1700-foot length reinforced concrete; bringing the total length to approximately 1900 feet.
The Prime Minister noted that during the construction of the seawall, also taken into account was the need for the realignment at the eastern end to allow for parking for visitors to the beach area. He added that safety issues were also addressed, inclusive of a ramp for people with disabilities at the western area, and additional steps for ease of access by the public.
“The design of the seawall should lessen the vulnerability of hurricanes in this community,” said Prime Minister Minnis.
“Sea-surges, flooding, structural and other water-based damage have proven to be commonplace in this area.
“This seawall has passed the two litmus tests of its structural integrity and sustainability having gone through Hurricanes Matthew and Irma during the construction period.
“The project has also created business and employment opportunities. Construction workers and owners of construction businesses and suppliers have benefited from this project.
“The new seawall provides coastal protection for this historic and picturesque settlement, from where many original Grand Bahamian families are descended.”
The Prime Minister acknowledged a number of key individuals, who have been instrumental in the fruition of the project, including Deputy Prime Minister and Member of Parliament for East End (the constituency in which Smith’s Point is located); Minister of Works, Hon. Desmond Bannister; Leader of the Opposition and former Minister of Public Works, Philip Brave Davis; former Minister for Grand Bahama, Dr. Michael Darville, along with Government officials in Grand Bahama and residents of Smith’s Point.
“I thank all of those involved in this project,” said Prime Minister Minnis. “I pray God’s blessings on all of you and on the residents of Smith’s Point and Grand Bahama.
“I am so pleased to be a part of this historic ceremony and it is my great honor to declare the Smith’s Point Seawall and adjacent infrastructure, officially open.”
This article was written by Andrew Coakley – Bahamas Information Services.