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Minister Thompson says renovation work at Courthouse is significant achievement by Government
By Andrew Coakley
Feb 25, 2020 - 4:15:34 PM

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AN IMPROVED COURT ROOM – Minister of State for Grand Bahama, Senator Kwasi Thompson (center) checks out some of the renovation work in one of courtrooms, during a tour of the Magistrate’s courts on Monday, February 24, 2020. At right is Max Quant of Noula Investments Limited, the contractors who carried out the renovation works at both the Supreme and Magistrate’s Courts. (BIS Photo/Lisa Davis)

FREEPORT, Grand Bahama - Minister of State for Grand Bahama, Senator Kwasi Thompson, said that he was excited to see the completion of works that were carried out at both the Supreme and Magistrate’s courts, resulting in a total upgrade of the courthouse in Freeport, Grand Bahama.

Minister Thompson, along with Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, Mr. Harcourt Brown, was given a tour of the completed work at the Magistrate’s Courts on Monday, February 24, 2020.

“Today, I’m very pleased with what I’ve seen during the tour of the facility,” Minister Thompson told the media, following a tour of the entire Magistrate’s building. “This really is a brand new building. The Supreme Court has already been renovated and is occupied, and the Magistrate’s Court side is completed.

“There have been some considerable upgrades to this building. There has been a new roof that has been put on, which will prevent the leaking that has been a big problem at the courthouse for a long time. The leaking had resulted in a mold problem, but now, all of that has been remedied.

“That should bring more comfort to those persons who have to work here. There are plans for elevators to be put in, which should be completed within the next few weeks.”

CHECKING OUT NEW OFFICE – Minister of State for Grand Bahama, Senator Kwasi Thompson (right), Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, Mr. Harcourt Brown (left) and Contractor Max Quant look at one of the new offices built within the Magistrate’s Court during an overhaul of both the Supreme Court and Magistrate’s Courts at the Garnett Levarity Justice Center in Freeport, Grand Bahama. (BIS Photo/Lisa Davis)

An official contract signing to carry out renovation works on the courthouse was held on the grounds of the Justice Center in November 2018 by Noula Investments Limited.

Minister Thompson noted that one of the major changes or improvements at the court is security upgrade for judges, which will eliminate judges having to pass the public or the cellblocks in order to get to their chambers.

The court structure had taken significant beating from Hurricane Matthew in 2017 and a number of the windows had been broken from debris damage.  As a part of the renovations, hurricane impact windows have been installed, and all of the windows can now be opened if necessary, which was a problem in the past.

A brand new air condition system has also been installed, which was a big plus, considering that the old system hardly ever worked, according to Minister Thompson, who has spent time in the court as a lawyer.

“This is a considerable upgrade to what was here before,” added Minister Thompson. “It has been brought back to its original, grand nature that it was first built to be. It is a significant achievement for this government to have restored one of Freeport’s great landmarks.

“The Supreme Court is one of those buildings that you see first when you come from the airport into the City’s center. So, we are pleased that the public will have a brand new Supreme and Magistrate’s Court.”

Max Quant, president of Noula Investment Construction Company Limited, contractors for the repairs on both the Supreme and magistrate’s Courts said that with the renovation came some technological upgrades to both the Supreme Court and Magistrate’s Courts.

“We have put in inter-teleconferencing with the prison system, so a lot of prisoners don’t have to physically come to the courthouse, they can just use that technology. It will save the government a whole lot of money in the long run.

“This has helped the Judiciary move into the 21st Century.”

Quant said that their initial deadline was for September 2019, but Hurricane Dorian forced that deadline to be significantly pushed back.  He added that they had asked for an extension until January of 2020.

“However, the Chief Justice in Nassau came down to look at the renovations and made a whole lot of changes,” said Quant. “So we had push back the completion time to February 20, which we met, basically.

“But at the end of the day, we are extremely proud of the work that was done and we believe that these renovations will greatly help the court system operate more smoothly.”

Minister Thompson pointed out that before the renovation, there were only two Supreme Courts – one was for criminal matters and one was for civil matters.

“Freeport really has grown and the court activity has also grown, so what this new upgrade has allowed us is that it has allowed us to have an additional Supreme court, which, again, is a significant achievement,” added Minister Thompson.

“I know attorneys for many years have been advocating that we should have an additional Supreme Court that would move matters along much quicker and would help in terms of the backlog. So, this is really a significant achievement for the Government.”

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