Global Ports Holding was selected as the successful bidder for the multi-million dollar redevelopment and management of the Port of Nassau, the Ministry of Tourism announced yesterday.
Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar said the overall investment is projected to be $250 million, and a 25-year concessionary period is being considered.
He added that negotiations will begin immediately.
He also stressed that Bahamian ownership, through a share offering, will be ensured.
Global Ports Holding is expected to create a modern, world-class port, creating open spaces with adequate shade. The proposal included a Junkanoo museum and an amphitheater, which the company hopes will host major performances. Additionally, the port will be able to accommodate eight ships, instead of the current six.
D’Aguilar said the proposal put forward by Global Ports Holding was unanimously considered the best proposal by the evaluation committee.
“They have engaged the best port architects and consultants to fulfill their mandate of creating an iconic and transformational gateway,” he said
“They have even gone over and beyond what was asked of them in the RFP by incorporating suggestions of how the redevelopment and transformation of the cruise port of Nassau will act as a catalyst for the revitalization of downtown Nassau.”
Global Ports Chairman Mehmet Kutman said, “What we came up with is basically a project which is, like the minister said, a transformational project, not only for the port, but for the whole of Nassau, starting from downtown.”
He added, “What we need to create is something I define as a holistic approach for the port. We need to integrate every single stakeholder without exception.”
Kutman said that this holistic approach has been very successful in other locations.
“The ports that we took over to a concession in Europe, they doubled their traffic in less than three years,” he said.
Once the negotiations are complete, construction will begin, according to the tourism minister.
“Hopefully, once a deal can be struck, we will commence construction and be done in 24 months,” he said.
Although he could not give a timeline for the negotiation process, he said it would take “the shortest possible time”.
Kutman said that in an effort to save time, Global Ports Holding will begin the studies necessary for construction during the negotiation process.
He said, “We are going to start doing all those studies with the hope that we reach an agreement with the government.”
Those studies include environmental studies, geotechnical studies and a study on the strength of the piers.
It was emphasized that it is intended for the cruise port to be majority owned by Bahamians.
D’Aguilar said, “This is not a sale of the Prince George Dock.
“The Bahamian people, through the government of The Bahamas, will always retain ownership of that asset.
“This is simply the granting of a concession to an entity that will invest $250 million to transform the cruise port of Nassau into an iconic, must-visit, must-see gateway with overwhelmingly positive passenger experiences, and in return earn the right to manage and operate the Prince George Dock for 25 years.”
According to President of CFAL Anthony Ferguson, Bahamians will hold 51 percent of the shares.
Two percent will belong to the YES Foundation.
The other 49 percent will be available to Bahamians wanting to invest in the project.
Ferguson said, “This will be the largest investment available to Bahamians to date.
“As you know the Arawak Port Development was the largest with 12,000 shareholders, which we worked very closely with them. We are planning to see if we can get to between 20,000 and 30,000 investors in this project.”
He noted that CFAL will be providing loans of up to $1,000 to Bahamians who want to invest in the project, but do not have the available cash.
It is also expected that Bahamians will benefit from new job and business opportunities in the area, with Kutman assuring that Bahamians will make up the majority of the workforce during the construction phase.
Ferguson noted that CFAL will also dedicate $5 million to provide loans to small businesses in the area.
While there was significant optimism over the project, D’Aguilar noted that the proposal was only a starting point.