Good afternoon, everyone!
It’s great to be back in Bimini, to continue the work of a dear friend, and beloved statesman.
Obie is still with us – in our memories, in our hearts, and in the many good works he did within his community. His legacy lives on as we build on his work: to continue spreading relief, hope, and support – not just to his constituents, but to all Bahamians.
The programmes, policies, and opportunities he sowed for the coming season will now bear fruit. We will honour his legacy through the lives we touch and the communities we improve.
This project in particular was one he was very passionate about.
This $80 million capital investment, which Obie saw through from the first community consultation to the very last in July of this year, is a big step forward for Bimini.
It represents the latest public-private partnership spearheaded by this administration, one which draws on the strengths of seasoned developers to deliver sound, sustainable infrastructure within public budgetary constraints.
We fully anticipate the improvements from this agreement giving this island an economic boost.
An airport is the gateway to a locale. It is the first experience visitors to this island will have – making a first impression long before they get to experience the rest of this beautiful island. As we improve the airport experience, we are ensuring that we make a good first impression for those visiting Bimini, and a great final impression for visitors as they depart.
Though Bimini might be on the western edge of The Bahamian archipelago, it sits firmly at the forefront of our minds, and our development agenda.
New transportation infrastructure means so much more than a few extra flights. It promises a more connected and more prosperous Bimini.
More connected, because this airport will bring the world to Bimini, and Bimini to the world.
And more prosperous, because this airport will generate new jobs while sustaining old ones, spur greater market access, and attract more foreign direct investment.
Bahamianization, my friends, is in full effect. I have engaged, alongside AG Ryan Pinder, in key discussions surrounding the management of this new airport, to ensure that Bahamians in general, and Biminites in particular, benefit the most from this development.
Ownership and operation of retail businesses and concessions at the Bimini airport will be restricted to Bahamians. The airport will also provide new opportunities for Bahamian job seekers while maintaining existing employees with similar, if not more favourable terms.
In short, the airport will employ Bahamians and promote Bahamian businesses. With the upcoming signing of this airport agreement, we don’t just want planes to take off. We want businesses to soar, too.
South Bimini’s new airport will drive further increases in tourism and trade, spurring economic growth. I trust that Bimini, the home of big game fishing, is as excited for this big upgrade as we are!
In our Blueprint for Change, we outlined a strategic plan for each island. Our aim is to satisfy critical needs, develop infrastructure, and maximise access to key services.
We have made headway on airports in Cat Island and Exuma, and we re-opened the Great Harbour Cay airport in the Berry Islands. Several other airport improvements are in the pipeline.
We have opened new passport offices and clinics on the Family Islands, and we will continue channelling vital investments across our archipelago.
Meanwhile, the roll-out of MyGateway and our broader digitisation efforts are working to bring government to you. With technology, we hope to overcome some of the logistical difficulties posed by our geography. We want to serve you, and we recognise that sometimes that means more than meeting you halfway. It means showing up at your doorstep.
As a Cat Islander through and through, I am well aware that The Bahamas is more than just New Providence. Nassau need not take up all our attention. Our focus is on developing the entire Bahamas.
This new airport is our latest effort in this regard, and I look forward to seeing it pay dividends for the people of Bimini. I am sure that Obie would be pleased to see his efforts flourish.
Thank you and may God bless the good people of Bimini.