No turning back over new airport
The building of a new airport for Bermuda is as critical for our future as the decision by General Dwight Eisenhower, who later became President of the United States. After pondering the pros and cons, which included enormous sacrifice of lives, he uttered words that made history when he said, “we go” — and the Normandy invasion unfolded as one of the most daring military operations ever staged.
There was no total agreement among the top brass for such an assault, knowing the price would be high. Eisenhower knew that also, but his conviction that doing the right thing at the right time was vital if there was to be any hope of defeating the enemy.
History showed that the decision helped in breaking the back of an enemy that threatened the lives of all who cherish peace and freedom.
Some may say that is no comparison to what Bermuda faces economically, if the present arrangement between the Government of Bermuda and a Canadian entity to build a new airport for Bermuda goes ahead. This is where the rubber hits the pavement politically, and that is to be expected since the cost and who will be paying for a new airport would be a matter for concern.
The existing arrangement, according to information already provided by the Government, makes it clear that financial arrangements to see the project through do not require any further strain on our economy, and promote the need for continuity in economic growth.
The Progressive Labour Party has expressed grave concerns about the arrangement to build a new airport, even though after 14 years in office, it never initiated a clear plan to tackle a crumbling facility that is the front door for our air arrivals and sets the tone for what we offer as a first-class resort.
Bermuda must be careful not to drift into a confrontational mode over the building of a badly needed airport, to a point where the issue becomes a question of viewpoints based purely on which political party one happens to support. The need for a new and modern facility to serve Bermudians and visitors rises well above that.
Bermuda is at a crossroads, where we either take on the challenge to build a new airport, or risk falling farther behind our competitors in the global tourism industry. We must focus on the benefits a new airport would bring to future generations. Credit should be given to those workers at the existing facility for doing everything to keep it running, although the Band-Aid approach can last only so long.
Many Bermudians can recall the uproar over proposed changes to the East Broadway area, which also housed the main bus garage for quite some time. Then there was grumbling over a new hospital and the cost, with some taking the view that all was needed were repairs to the old facility.
Today, the East Broadway scene is accepted as a part of Bermuda, with much of the younger generation unaware there was ever a squabble to improve the area. The new hospital is something to be proud of and most Bermudians would not want the clock turned back in providing healthcare facilities that continue to improve.
The electorate are not experts on every detail involved in building a new airport, but they also know that any government would be risking credibility and trust if it embarked on a venture that held the potential for economic hardship for all. That would be political suicide.
Few would disagree that Bermuda needs to upgrade its airport facilities so people could board and disembark without dashing through rain to enter the terminal building. In the weeks and months ahead, there will be a lot said about the project. It is always good for both political groups to discuss crucial concerns about any issues that concern Bermudians.
However, the last thing we need is to turn the clock back on a new airport. We must do this collectively with the utmost ability to ensure that the interest of all Bermudians is the highest priority.
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