April 20, 2017
Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Rt. Hon. Perry Christie congratulated his friend of many years, Mr. Prescott Smith and his business partner Ms. Geneva Wilson on the groundbreaking for Blue Hole Marina Village & Andros Island Fuels, in Fresh Creek Andros, adding that it was a testament of their vision and persistence in pursuing their dream to build the first major state of the art marina facility in Andros.
“We encourage such developments (marinas) in our country," Prime Minister Christie said, as he spoke at the ceremony on April 19, 2017. "I should tell you that this facility will have 80 slips, which means that it will be among the larger of such facilities and I am assured that the construction and operation of the facility will be at Best Practices standards for the industry and will include all of the amenities that such a facility should have."
"We can all be confident that it will be among the finest of such facilities all across The Bahamas and will be added to the list of marinas from Grand Bahama and Abaco, Bimini and the Berry Islands and of course, those in Exuma," he added.
Prime Minister Christie pointed out that he is advised that the developers are confident that there will be no rivals or competitors in terms of what is being done here and the principal reason for saying that is because of its location in Fresh Creek Andros.
"It is intended to be a one-of-a-kind facility given the wildness and mystique of Andros," Prime Minister Christie said. "This facility will take advantage of all that Andros has to offer."
Prime Minister Christie reiterated the fact that Andros boasts of having the largest bonefish flats in the world. He added that Andros also has the largest concentration of red mangroves in the western hemisphere, the third largest reef in the world, and the Tongue of the Ocean which drops off to an average depth of 6,000 feet -- a mere few minutes outside of this proposed marina facility -- and offers "world class offshore fishing" for Billfish, Tuna, Wahoo, Mahi Mahi.
"The Ministry of Tourism estimates that over 40,000 foreign boaters visit or traverse The Bahamas every year, and, so Andros is primed to enter this growing and lucrative market," Prime Minister Christie said. "This facility when completed will, I am sure, be able to attract its fair share of this market, based on the alluring features of Andros which I have just described and the standard of service this facility will provide to its customers."
Prime Minister Christie said that he was pleased to note that the partners in the venture had set very high standards for what they hope to see on completion of the project.
"The Blue Hole Marina Village will provide dockage for 80 yachts with full amenities and security and will provide the following products and services: Gasoline and diesel fuel, lubricants, LP Gas, ice, restaurants, spa/gym/shower and Laundry facilities, cottage rentals, Golf putting range and retail stores," Prime Minister Christie noted. "In short, this will be a fully all-inclusive facility and will put Fresh Creek on the map."
Prime Minister Christie noted that, as Mr. Smith had said earlier, the marina village was a "wonderful model and a very pertinent and relevant example" of empowerment of locals into the mainstream of our burgeoning Tourism sector.
"The practicality of this development will mean the creation of local jobs for others in the community who themselves will become entrepreneurs whether in the transport sector, as tour guides and fishing, as chefs, as mechanics and maintenance persons, as vendors and the like," Prime Minister Christie said.
"The infusion of new business opportunities created by this development will radiate throughout the Fresh Creek community and all of Central Andros," Prime Minister Christie stated. "One direct benefit for the local community will be a marked reduction in the cost of fuels to a reasonable price and the problem of fuel shortage will be addressed through this investment.
"But allow me to say this: This proposed development for which we break ground today will mean that the people of Central Andros will have to ready to take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves. There will be direct and indirect opportunities; but above all, you the people of Central Andros will have to be ready and prepared to take advantage of such opportunities."
To the young and not so young, Prime Minister Christie said that through the many programmes that the Government sponsors, they could train themselves and enhance their resumes; so that if -- for example – if a person wanted to be a chef he or she would have the requisite qualification.
"If you would like to be on the engineering and technical staff of this development, you will have that piece of paper which says that you are qualified to do the job that you are seeking," he said. "This Government is all about empowering and ensuring that we put Bahamians first. You must be prepared for it."
"You have heard it said that Andros is the 'Sleeping Giant'," Prime Minister Christie continued. "During this term in office, my Government set out to awaken our sleeping giant and through the private sector developments such as this one and through Government initiatives such as BAMSI, I feel that we can cause real economic development to happen in Andros built around its unique natural attributes."
"Indeed, my vision and wish for Andros is to have true, meaningful, sustainable development which is organic to the island and generated, and embraced by Androsians and all Bahamians."
Prime Minister Christie pointed out it was the reason he was "so filled with pride" to see another step being taken by local Bahamians to empower themselves that day.
"I am happy for Prescott and his associate Geneva who have taken a great leap of faith in moving ahead with this project which when completed will have a major impact on the communities of Central Andros and beyond," he said.
Prime Minister Christie stated that Andros is too large and represents too great a potential not to be integrated into and be a major driver of the Bahamian economy.
"We have to put the myriad of its resources to work to build and sustain the future development of The Bahamas," Prime Minister Christie said. "I believe that it can be done."
By Eric Rose
Bahamas Information Services