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Columns : Island Notes - Peter Barratt Last Updated: Feb 13, 2017 - 1:45:37 AM

Peter Barratt: Bahama Rock
By Peter Barratt
Jun 6, 2014 - 11:20:38 AM

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It was an excellent idea to get a Bahama Rock, a stateside company, to dredge the harbour so that it can accommodate the new slew of deep-draft ships soon to be traversing the Panama Canal. The problem now, it seems to me, is that Bahama Rock has completed its task and they don’t want to go home. To give you an idea of what I mean, you will see they have pushed their excavations so far north there is virtually no space between the Garnet Levarity Highway and the water of the extended harbour precluding the accommodation of future wharves and dockside facilities of marine industries.

But that is not all. Bahama Rock has now moved west to create a giant lagoon for no better reason than to gain more limerock for export. This first came to light in 2008 when it was announced Bahama Rock had purchased 1000 acres of land from the Port Authority west of the Levarity Highway. So this simply means they will continue excavating until they own a humongous lake. It was even muted they would build a bridge to access even more land north of the Eight Mile Rock settlements. And presumably the unsettling blasting will not stop. What is going to happen to this great salt water lake? And what about damage to the environment, destruction of flora/fauna and salinization of the aquifer? Will the saline ground water kill off vegetation as has happened elsewhere? Doesn’t the government or Port Authority have somebody who could point out that this was about to happen? Does anybody care?

This all starts to raise an ethical problem. Bahamian land is part of our heritage (the most important in fact, after our people) and we are hell-bent on exporting it! Just imagine if the fill from the harbour could have been transported to low lying areas in Grand Bahama - it might have gone some way to ameliorate the perennial flooding. True, it might not have earned as much money for the ownership families as selling the rock to foreigners, but the morality of keeping Bahamian land in the Bahamas would have been maintained.

Christopher Columbus stated on arriving at San Salvador stated that ‘all the ships of Christendom’ could safely moor in the lee of the island (he was wrong of course) but the massive expansion of Freeport Harbour may now just meet that observation of Columbus. So, don’t be surprised if the extended harbour will not offer much frontage for future marine industries. But naval fleets do not need as much dock space as commercial marine use so don’t be surprised if, in ten or so years from now, it might be attractive enough to become the home port for an Atlantic Naval Fleet – perhaps one from Asia…

Peter Barratt is an architect/town planner who was formerly in charge of the development of Freeport. He writes with first-hand knowledge of the Bahamas having first visited the country in 1960. Because of his long experience in the islands he has been able to record many interesting insights, observations and historic moments that readers should find intriguing. He has published several books about the island nation: Grand Bahama, Freeport Notebook and Bahama Saga, (the latter a historical novel about the islands). He has also written a full colour work entitled: Angelic Verses and two other works are near publication: The Port at War and St Peter Was Never There .

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in his/her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of TheBahamasWeekly.com


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Island Notes - Peter Barratt
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