Freeport, Grand Bahama – The Grand Bahama Port Authority, Limited (GBPA) is collaborating with key stakeholders on the potential impact of COVID-19 on Grand Bahama. “We have been paying close attention to how this global pandemic has affected other countries around the world and we commend the Government of The Bahamas and the Health Authorities, for acting swiftly to protect our nation and for their ongoing communications. With regard to Grand Bahama, we are following the Prime Minister’s COVID-19 Orders and working closely with the Government and Health Authorities in both complying and maintaining essential utilities such as power, water, and garbage collection. “We have let the relevant authorities know that we are on standby to help and support in any and every way we can”, said Ian Rolle, President of the GBPA. “We are acting upon lessons learned to protect ourselves and each other. COVID-19 does not discriminate; it has no prejudice and the only way that we stand a fighting chance is to work together to keep our island and country safe.” Over the last few weeks, the GBPA has engaged with the Minister of Health, The Hon. Dr. Duane Sands, Grand Bahama Health Services, Government Officials and the Industrial sector.” he added.
As required, the GBPA has discontinued nonessential services. Nevertheless, the company continues to work safely to provide essential city maintenance, collections and debris removal, inspection services for home remediation post Hurricane Dorian, and work carried out by the Grand Bahama Utility Company Limited (GBUC) for the restoration of potable water. As work continues, employees are taking the necessary health and safety protocols to safeguard themselves and the public.
Several steps have been taken for the benefit of all residents and licensees. “As a priority, the GBPA has ensured that the distribution sites for potable drinking water continue to be operational, without risk to the NGO's. The Grand Bahama Utility Company (GBUC) has increased sanitary protocols at water distribution sites to mitigate against the risk of COVID-19 spread. For utility customers, there will be no disconnects of water. Additionally, there will continue to be an abundant supply of tap water for hygiene and sanitary purposes so essential at this time to reduce the spread of the virus”, said Henry St. George, Executive Director of GBPA. Further, the GBPA has also worked with the Grand Bahama Power Company to have the Storm Recovery and Stabilization Charge suspended until further notice.
In acknowledging the difficulties local businesses are experiencing, Deann Seymour, CFO at Port Group Ltd. said, “In an effort to reduce the economic impact, the GBPA is suspending collection of licensee fees for the impacted sectors for the period that the Emergency Order lasts.”
Additionally, Rupert Hayward, Executive Director of GBPA explained that there has been a task force initiative to accelerate the annual hurricane relief program to purchase trailers of non-perishable food items to be shipped to Grand Bahama, in the event those in need increase in numbers. He confirmed that currently there are no food shortages and that this measure has not been taken to cause panic, but to model worst-case scenario planning, as Hurricane Season is nearing.
In her statement, Sarah St. George, Acting Chairman of the GBPA, said that GBPA is very cognizant that the sole governing body for hospitals, health facilities and medical services resides with Government of the Bahamas, Ministry of Health, Public Hospital Authority and locally the Grand Bahama Health Services. She commended the Government of the Bahamas for its response to this pandemic, and continued, “The GBPA is working hand-in-hand with GB Health Services and the Government of The Bahamas to put an extra medical facility on standby and at the immediate disposal of GB Health Services, should the need arise. Additionally, GBPA, along with the industrial sector, is amassing a pool of additional funds and resources to contribute to GB Health Services for sourcing, procurement and shipping of specialized medical equipment to Grand Bahama, in order to assist with the fight against COVID-19.”
Ms. St. George averred, “Philcher Grant, Director of Group Corporate Affairs and Government Relations and our Communications Team, also comprising Glendia Sweeting, Group Corporate Affairs Manager, will keep our Communication Services up to the minute. We urge all residents to adhere to all advisories from credible sources like the government’s COVID19 website or from our GBPA website and social media platforms. She concluded, “We ask that you stay safe and may God continue to keep you and your families and bless our medical corps.”