GBPA given 30 days to respond
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Hundreds of residents and business owners on Grand Bahama yesterday staged a march and demonstration in protest over the state of the economy on the island.
Demonstrators marched through downtown Freeport towards the Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA) headquarters wearing shirts that read “take a stand” and shouting “free Grand Bahama”.
Organizers of the protest presented the authority with a signed letter listing demands from residents and business owners.
The authority was given 30 days to respond to the demands. If the GBPA fails to do so, the protestors said they will take to the streets again.
Businessman Darron Cooper, one of the organizers of the march, has been a longtime critic of the GBPA and successive governments for failing Grand Bahama.
He said he hopes the authority will hear and address the cries of the people, and understand they are the city managers and it’s their responsibility to respond.
“Today we are out here as Grand Bahamians as business owners to simply say the state of our island is unacceptable,” Cooper said.
“We lack maintenance, we lack development and we lack management of our city and we are calling on you to do what you have been called to do and to make sure it gets done.
“We are calling on the executives to work harder. If you are working now, work harder in making sure this island is developed and it goes back to the state we once know it to be, with a functioning international airport; a functioning hospital; a functioning, robust economy with businesses; and all sorts of other stuff.”
In a statement on its social media pages, the authority said GBPA President Ian Rolle and COO of Public Affairs and Grand Bahama Utility Company Philcher Grant met with protestors at the doors of the port authority’s headquarters to answer questions and address their concerns.
It further noted that the GBPA will meet with all interested residents to discuss their concerns at its quarterly expo, “Port Community Talks”, on March 28 at 6pm at the Teachers Union Hall.
Meanwhile, the Ministry for Grand Bahama acknowledged the demonstration held on the island.
“We note that under the Hawksbill Creek Agreement, the Grand Bahama Port Authority is mandated with the responsibility for the development, administration and management, and provisions of services, within the ‘port area’ of Grand Bahama,” the statement said.
“This administration advocates compassionate leadership and expressed repeatedly that social consciousness is an integral part of the restoration of the Grand Bahama economy and the community.”
The statement further said business owners and residents within the port area are entitled to receive the answers they seek.
“The Davis/Cooper administration will continue to make every effort for the restoration of Grand Bahama island for the benefit of our people.
“We will continue to engage with all stakeholders in this regard.”