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Development on Rum Cay Island



March 01, 2004 - 08:49
Rum Cay Gets New Airstrip
Prime Minister Perry Christie officially declared the Port Nelson airstrip in Rum Cay open Friday, fulfilling a commitment and pledge made during the 2002 general election campaign.

Caribbean Aviation, which flew in some ministers to the island, also made its inaugural flight, which will lead to bi-weekly flights.

However, an air terminal has not yet been built and the island does not have "port of entry" status.

Residents from Rum Cay and San Salvador gathered under a wooden structure, yesterday for a ceremony to open and bless the barren airstrip.

190–room address

Prime Minister Christie in his address announced that a 190-room resort, equipped with a 190-slip marina was in the works, by an investment group to be built on the island. He urged residents to increase their entrepreneurial spirit, to assist in the development of the island or be faced with other Family Islanders. "This airstrip," he said, would make a fundamental difference on the island, with the potential to attract tourist.

European union

His Excellency Gerd Jarchow, European Union Commissioner to The Bahamas, said in his brief remarks that "It's always a pleasure for me when one of our projects is completed. I visited this island last year, saw it, and immediately loved it."

Mr. Jarchow noted that because of Rum Cay's central location, it was full of potential. "There are endless possibilities for diving and sport fishing, potable water and a potential port of entry for cruise ships," he said.

Airstrip overdue

Minister of Works and Utilities, Bradley Roberts said the development of the airstrip was overdue by 30 years.

He noted that the former unsafe dirt strip, 2,300 feet long by 30 feet in width, proved to be a challenge for even the most skilled pilots.

The new airstrip - 4,500 feet long by 100 feet wide has remedied the problem, he said, as it is now has an additional verge of 200 feet on either side for aircrafts with larger wing spans. The airstrip was designed to meet International Civil Aviation Standards. "Having the capacity to handle medium size, short haul aircrafts similar to the Dash- 8 presently operated by the National Flag Carrier and private carriers," he said. Four miles of road pavement was also included in the project, he said, noting that contractor, Emile Knowles, completed the job at a cost of $2.7 million dollars.

EU contributes $1 million

The European Union (EU), he said contributed just over $1 million dollars to the project. Additionally, Mr. Roberts said Mr. Knowles still had a bit of remedial work to do. "Generally the work was satisfactorily carried out," he said revealing that a terminal building was also in the works, "with proper restrooms to accommodate visitors coming to this island."

He expressed sheer gratitude to the commitment of the EU and other government agencies like the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

Thank you

Leslie Miller, Minister of Trade and Industry, also on hand for the opening, thanked the European Commission for making the airstrip a reality.

"Today also serves as another tangible example of the continuation and further enhancement of the close cooperation in the areas of trade and aid between The Bahamas and the European Union over the past 28 years. This cooperation has been embodied in successive loan agreements since 1975, and in the current Contonou agreement," he stated.

Mr. Miller explained that under the agreement The Bahamas was able to export "our fisheries products and rum products to countries of Western Europe."

He said the airstrip was just the beginning of technical training, as a recent meeting with Mr. Jarchow showed that, "we have a grant of $7.2 million Euros that's roughly $8.5 million dollars." He stressed that those funds had already been earmarked for assisting in the further development of the Family Islands.

Friday also ushered in the start of home coming festivities on the island.

Jimenita Swain, The Nassau Guardian 

What a difference a runway makes

Posted: Monday March 1, 2004

A 4,500-feet by 100-feet paved runway is quite a difference from a 2,300-feet dirt strip. It is quite a difference indeed.
It could even make the difference in the kind of prayers in the mouth of passengers in an aircraft as the pilot lines up and bears down for a landing.

Rum Cay, for sure, will never be the same again. With its new runway that gives pilots a clear visual and the surface for perfect landings, Rum Cay is now set to move into the modern stream of progress with the developed Bahamas and the outside progressive world.

But what will be the end cost for this move?

Will Rum Cay's move alongside the likes of New Providence, or Grand Bahama, or Exuma bring an end to the tranquillity that that under populated island has enjoyed for the last long while?

Would it be possible to grow the island with substantial investments that would sustain the current population level and at the same time keep the criminal element out? This will certainly be a challenge for the authorities and the Government but now is the time to give it serious consideration.

Thirty years ago at the time of independence, The Bahamas was still considered a friendly country, where violence and criminal activity were not rampant and the police did not openly wear sidearms or walk about the street with high-powered automatic rifles.
But the times and the people have changed. The police could not and still can't stop the illegal guns and ammunition from coming into the country and so their methods of operation have changed too.

Yes, by all means develop Rum Cay, create jobs and other opportunities for the residents there and also those many people who have moved away looking for a better life elsewhere. They should be encouraged to return home to help build their own communities, their own island. At the same time, however, prepare for the riff-raff -- to weed them out and to keep them out.




Rum Cay Set For Major Economic Expansion
The small southeastern island of Rum Cay is set for major economic expansion with the announcement Friday of two major tourism projects and the commissioning of a $2.2 million airport.

Prime Minister Perry Christie along with the Member of Parliament for Cat Island Rum Cay and San Salvador Philip "Brave" Davis, the Minister of Works and Utilities Bradley Roberts and the Minister of Transport and Aviation Glenys Hanna Martin were all on hand for the opening.

The 4,500 ft Port Nelson airstrip project which was pending since 1997, was completed back in August 2003 by Knowles Construction and Development. It was built to high design standard making it capable of receiving Dash 8 aircraft.

Prime Minister Christie said that the dream has been fulfilled for the people of Rum Cay. He encouraged Bahamians to integrate themselves through linkages into what he said would be the emerging economy of Rum Cay.

"This airstrip makes a fundamental difference to the island Rum Cay is no longer an out of the way spot but will become the centerpiece of tourism in the southern islands," he said. "Rum Cay residents are now challenged to deal with the growth of tourism."

The population of Rum Cay stands around 75 people.

Mr. Christie challenged the Rum Cay residents to find ways and means to become involved with the expanding economy.

According to Mr. Christie Rum Cay has produced some famous sons and daughters including the former Governor General Sir Milo Butler and the former Anglican Archdeacon William Thompson.

Mr. Davis said that Rum Cay is no longer a forgotten island and that the opening of the airstrip brings new life to the community of Rum Cay, which for years waited for relief and hope.

"No longer will residents and visitors alike have to risk their lives by landing on a less than adequate airstrip and the people of Rum Cay will now be able to enjoy the safety and comfort of travel that is now available to Bahamians throughout The Bahamas," he said.

Yvette Rolle-Major, The Bahama Journal 



New $2.2m airstrip, roads for Rum Cay 

Nassau Guardian Date January 19, 2004 
Guardian Staff Reporter

A new $2.2 million airstrip capable of handling Dash 8 aircraft will be officially opened at Rum Cay on Feb. 27, Works and Utilities Minister Bradley Roberts confirmed on Wednesday.

To be known as the Port Nelson Airport, the 4500x100-foot airstrip will replace the 2300x30-foot private airstrip in use for many years. Four miles of new roads are also included in the contract price.

Mr Roberts made the announcement as he responded to a request by High Rock Member of Parliament Kenneth Russell to "please lay on the table all reports and inspection records on the progress of the Rum Cay Airport and state the Ministry's position on the acceptance of the progress reports."

Mr Roberts said except for several minor items that were being rectified, he was satisfied the various engineering specifications had been met.

The contractor was listed as Knowles Construction and Development Company.

Election promise

According to Mr Roberts, "I recall that during the General Elections the then-leader of the Opposition (Prime Minister Perry Christie) told the people of that Cay that when he returns to that Cay, that all the roads on that Cay leading from the airport, beside the connecting roads, would have been paved.

"That, Mr. Speaker, will be on February 27, and Mr. Speaker, when the Prime Minister returns, those roads would have been paved," he continued.

"And I am delighted that my ministry was able to carry out those works for and on behalf of the people of Rum Cay," he said.
Joint funding

The project is the result of a joint venture between the Bahamas Government and the European Union, and commissioned by the head of delegation of the European Commission, Gerd Jarchow and Prime Minister Christie.

Improved safety

According to aviation sources, the new airstrip should be a welcome relief for persons travelling to Rum Cay, as only small aircraft with skilled pilots were capable of using the private airstrip, that will now be closed.

Safety hazards at the strip were said to include: trees and powerlines on the approach to the airstrip, in addition to it not being aligned with the prevailing winds that would have facilitated safer and more efficient takeoffs and landings.


The Guardian was told the new airstrip has been designed to a high standard, with a 500-foot cleared protective area .
With the airstrip designed for future expansion as required, it was also fenced to keep wild animals from straying into the area, in addition to other security requirements.













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