REMARKS: The Most Hon. Hubert A. Minnis Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Hope Town Shoreline Stabilisation Project

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Good morning.

No matter the many times I have come to Hope Town over so many years, I am always taken by the natural beauty as well as the architecture of your community, which represents the history and struggles of many generations of Abaconians.

The people of Elbow Cay and Hope Town are among some of the more industrious people in our Commonwealth.

Your industry and your resilience have brought you through many difficult times, including Hurricane Dorian, which destroyed many homes and businesses in this community.

But no storm, no matter how powerful, will ever destroy your spirit.

No storm can destroy your dreams.

During the most difficult days of the COVID-19 pandemic, when I asked Almighty God for strength to save and to protect the lives of our people, I often thought of the courage of the people of the Abaco Cays and Abaco in the aftermath of Dorian.

I remember being here with you this past Christmas for the lighting of the Christmas tree, which was a source of light and new life; a source of hope.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

       In the rebuilding and renewal of Abaco, the Abaco Cays and Grand Bahama since Hurricane Dorian, $105.6 million dollars in tax concessions were provided during 2019 and 2020 under the Special Economic Recovery Zone Act, for VAT, Customs duties and excise tax waivers.

       Further, $11, 536, 683.22 business licence fees were waived for 4,475 companies in the affected areas.  This related to business license fees that had accrued during 2019 before the Hurricane.

       Additionally, $5,983,424.42 was disbursed by the Small Business Development Centre to micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises in the affected areas.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

While there is still much work to do here on Hope Town and throughout Abaco and Grand Bahama, we are making progress together.

There is truly hope on the horizon!

The first vaccines to fight this deadly virus are on the way. No Family Island will be excluded.

This very year, the economy of The Bahamas and Abaco will get much better.

There will be many more tourists returning, including boaters.

More investments will flow into the Abaco Cays and Abaco, including private sector investments and public infrastructure. 

Through the grace of the God of New Beginnings, Abaco and The Bahamas will rise!

Ladies and Gentlemen:

In 1999, Hurricane Floyd caused severe damage to the edge of Queen’s Highway and nearby sand dune on Elbow Cay, resulting in the loss of beach sand in front of the dune.   

Various attempts were made to re-construct the dune.  

In 2011, the dune was again severely damaged by Hurricane Irene, and a subsequent tropical storm. 

These series of events accelerated the shoreline erosion, which ultimately damaged the seaside edge of the road, leading to a sharp and dangerous drop off. 

In some sections, traffic was reduced to one lane of road width.  

Immediate action needed to be taken to keep the road in a safe condition for motorists and pedestrians, and to stabilize the shoreline to mitigate further shoreline erosion. 

My Government, through the talented team at the Ministry of Public Works, developed a design to repair the road and stabilize the existing dune and shoreline.

The works comprised: 

  • clearing the site; 
  • the construction of a 900 feet long revetment structure protected by 6.6 ton armor limestone boulders; 
  • the rehabilitation of 790 feet of roadway;
  • the construction of 850 feet of concrete retaining wall with steel railing; and
  • backfilling and planting of dune vegetation. 

In February 2019 a tender exercise was conducted with six qualified bidders. 

Bahamas Marine Construction was the successful bidder. 

In July 2019, there was a contract signing ceremony here in Hope Town with Bahamas Marine Construction to complete the works over an eight-month period.    

The contract was in the amount of: Three Million, Two Hundred and Sixty- Three Thousand, Six Hundred and Sixty-Five Dollars and Forty-Four Cents, VAT included. 

In August 2019, the project commenced works with the procurement of materials. 

The magnitude of destruction caused by Hurricane Dorian halted and delayed the project execution by some four months. 

In February 2020, the project resumed with the mobilization of a fully self-sufficient housing camp to Elbow Cay. 

In February 2020 site works commenced. 

Not long after site works commenced, the COVID-19 pandemic changed our way of life with the declaration of a National State of Emergency that affected all industries and the construction industry in particular. 

From tragedy to adversity the project pressed on and works were substantially completed in August 2020. 

Currently, the maintenance of newly planted vegetation and the construction of a staircase to access the beach are ongoing.  They will be completed in short order. 

Ladies and Gentlemen:

       I want to close with this story which touched my heart.

       Early last year, in 2020, before the pandemic hit The Bahamas, a colleague of mine brought some guests to the Office of the Prime Minister for me to meet.

       They came to visit Nassau because they heard my plea for visitors to come back to The Bahamas as one way of helping the country to recover following the devastation of Hurricane Dorian.

       Even though visitors could not travel to Abaco, we needed tourists to return to other islands as a way of generating revenue that could help in the recovery of Abaco, the Abaco Cays and Grand Bahamas.

       We are one people.  

We are One Bahamas.  

We are a Commonwealth.

       When any part of our country is hurting or in need, we must respond as one, in a spirit of love and unity.

       Those visitors who came to visit me at my office, told me that the other reason they came was because they remembered the wonderful hospitality and beauty of Abaco, which they had just visited a year before in 2019.

       They especially remembered the beautiful day they spent on Elbow Cay.  They told me they will never forget when they were coming into the harbour and saw the lighthouse.

       They even remembered the cracked conch and peas n’ rice they enjoyed at a restaurant here.

       Most importantly, they remembered how you made them feel welcome!

       Those visitors returned to The Bahamas because of you and because of your spirit.

       It is a Bahamian and Abaco spirit that will endure long past any of our lifetimes.

       It is a spirit of hope, a spirit of love, a spirit of community.

       Let us continue to lift each other up as we renew and revitalize this community and our Bahamas.

Dear Brothers and Sisters of Elbow Cay:

May God bless all of the residents of Hope Town and Elbow Cay.

       And may God bless the wonderful people of Abaco and the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

It now gives me great pleasure to commission the Hope Town Shoreline Stabilisation Project, here on Elbow Cay.

Thank you and good morning/afternoon.