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
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.
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.
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
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.
Leslie Miller, Minister of Trade and Industry, also on hand for the
opening, thanked the European Commission for making the airstrip a
"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
Jimenita Swain, The Nassau Guardian
What a difference a
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
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
But what will be the end cost for this
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
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
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
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
BY VANESSA C. ROLLE
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
The contractor was listed as Knowles Construction and Development
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.
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
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.