Problems in Harbour Island

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October 28, 2011

Dear Editor,
The annual ritual of making the pilgrimage of attending the North Eleuthera Regatta continued this past Discovery Weekend.  From Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham to the Leader of the Opposition Perry Christie, and everyone in between, including political wannabes, attended.  They were joined by the hundreds and hundreds who would not miss this event for anything in the world despite the recession, the weather, the lack of accommodations, etc.  Those factors did not deter the multitude of persons, many of whom had been coming for years because they know that the biggest open secret is that Briland is still sweet.
Yes, a regatta is supposed to be an event where sailboats race, but the regatta in North Eleuthera is something else - 72 hours of non-stop bacchanal with family reunions and comradery.  Persons from all walks of life simply just come to Briland and have a good time in a safe environment, as the Royal Bahamas Police Force does an excellent job of keeping the peace.
This is also an occasion when a number of enterprising local entrepreneurs take advantage of the opportunity to make money.  Traditionally, most of the Briland hotels close from the first week in September after the American Labor Day weekend until the end of October or mid-November.  This year due to Hurricane Irene, they closed prematurely.  That is why accommodations are so difficult to find on Briland during regatta in October.  Regrettably, what is a clear case of discrimination against Bahamians is that a number of private homeowners normally rent their homes to international persons, but they instruct their agents not to rent to Bahamians, especially during regatta.
Another source of frustration for Brilanders hoping to make a few dollars during these tough economic times is the fact that there were free parties, in particular one that was sponsored by one of the major number houses.  This selfish act undermined the efforts of those who were depending on recouping their investments in the regatta.
However, even with the measured success of this regatta, all was certainly not well in paradise.  Harbour Island and Eleuthera are suffering from decaying infrastructure the government of The Bahamas is just ignoring - or it doesn't care.  There doesn't appear to be any coordinated effort to address these issues.  Many persons feel that the incumbent Member of Parliament and the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Alvin Smith, who has been representing the area for the past 15 years, has not been vocal enough in voicing the concerns of the people of the North Eleuthera constituency.
Yes, everyone was happy when the contract to fix Three Island Dock on Eleuthera, the drop-off point for persons travelling from Eleuthera to Harbour Island, was signed about a month ago.  However, there was no consideration given to Regatta 2011.  Persons arriving at North Eleuthera Airport were shocked when they discovered that they had to drag their luggage almost 100 yards across a construction site to catch the ferry.  No temporary path had been indicated and there was no overhead shelter to protect individuals from inclement weather.  It actually rained in North Eleuthera for most of the weekend.  The only public building on the dock had been flattened by the contractors.
Consequently, there was no shelter or bathroom at Three Island Dock.  Many persons felt that when one considers the number of persons who use the dock that weekend, this part of the exercise should have been delayed until after the regatta.
Furthermore, in the past, Three Island Dock was the venue for the official opening ceremonies of the regatta.  This year, obviously, they had to be held elsewhere.  In addition, the dock is usually lined with vendors trying to make a few dollars from the regatta crowd.  This year due to the construction, they were denied the privilege, as the whole area is now a construction site.  Everyone agrees that there should have been better planning on the construction on the dock and not just a mad rush to get the job done.
However, the biggest infrastructure disaster in North Eleuthera must be the roads on Harbour Island.  What a disastrous disgrace.  Unlike the roads in Nassau that are all "dig up, dig up", the roads on Harbour Island are just simply bad.  In Nassau, there are people who are working on the roads, but in Harbour Island there is no one working on the roads and no one can give a date as to when roadwork might actually start in Briland.
Efforts for a temporary fix by filling some of the major holes with sand proved to be a waste of time, as the rain just simply washed the sand out.  Needless to say, these potholes do severe damage to the main mode of transport on Harbour Island - that is, the golf cart.  A number of persons who rent out golf carts indicated that they cannot buy new carts or upgrade their fleet as the bad roads will only destroy them.  This is a view held not just by the locals, but the tourists as well who are also asking the question as to when the roads will be fixed.  There is at least one pothole on Colebrooke Street that I measured at almost two feet deep.  Not only is this damaging to vehicles, but there is a risk to human injury as well.  Brilanders were happy to observe members of the government, including Ingraham, navigate the roads of Harbour Island on a golf cart.  Now he knows firsthand the state of the Harbour Island roads as those who feel it know.
Finally, it is a great mystery as to why a certain cabinet minister refused to drink a glass of water that came out of the public pump in Harbour Island; maybe he felt that it might be a threat to his health.
The point is that this is the water the people of Harbour Island, who cannot afford to buy bottled water, have to drink.  The public water in Harbour Island is so offensively salty and horrible, the Ministry of Health should analyze it with a view as to whether or not it is safe for public consumption. When one looks at the financial contribution to the Public Treasury, especially with its elite tourism product, it is reasonable to say that Briland deserves better.  Infrastructure development in Harbour Island should be given top priority by this government.
Yours, etc.,
Freeport, Bahamas

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News date : 10/28/2011    Category : Letters, Nassau Guardian Stories

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