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Much of the public conversation over the past month has been in connection with the power generation shortcomings of BEC, our electrical utility provider. Conventional wisdom seems to be that the difficulties are first a question of management, then a question of equipment.

On the other hand, there has been little said about the planning of a utility grid. The term “grid” implies a network of connected points that allow movement in any direction. Cable Bahamas, for example, tells us that their fiber optic cable is laid in a grid that, should one cable be accidentally cut, within a few milli-seconds the service is restored from another direction.

This, it seems, is the real problem with BEC. The present network (of two points) is a half century old, and was designed to facilitate western urbanization on New Providence. The extent of southern, south-eastern or even south-western growth was not anticipated, and will probably never be accommodated by the present infrastructure.

This, of course reminds us that there is still no Master Plan for the island of New Providence, just the constant accommodation of unplanned growth. In the 1970’s, under the leadership of then Director Ivern Davis, a Master Plan was promised, and I believe was being developed. Government even brought in experts from Unesco to assist. Forty years later we are still without this basic tool for proper development.  It is difficult to imagine a more urgent environmental issue yet the airwaves are filled with hundreds of issues that in fact depend on the existence of a Master Plan. Perhaps it is time to take the physical development of our country seriously, now that it is hurting “the small man” both in his pocketbook and his comfort.

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