Week 1 Bahamas: New Providence Infrastructure

If visiting the Bahamas right now, you will notice on the island of new providence (which locals typically refer to as Nassau(which is the name of the capital) that the roads are undergoing a major overhaul as a part of the government’s plan to reduce traffic congestion. They aren’t usually freshly paved or devoid of potholes, but are ample for driving. One thing you will notice about the roads is that they are probably more narrow than you are used to if you are from the united states. What results is people, driving in a way that may also be foreign to visitors, as locals drive at an energetic pace while quickly dodging this way and that to avoid other vehicles and pedestrians (pedestrian sidewalk infrastructure is greatly lacking).
As a north American visitor you should also notice that driving is on the left, owing to the British heritage of the commonwealth.

The roads are generally not laid out in any distinguishable pattern, other than the major thoroughfares that run north-south such as Ballou Hill Road (pronounced blue). In recent years, the government has chosen to adopt a system of one-way streets in major commercial areas in a further attempt to control traffic congestion.

The Bahamas is a peculiar case. Having the highest per capita GDP in the Caribbean, it is ranked as one of the wealthiest and most stable economically. Along with major american and international hotel brands, there’s Atlantis, the multi-billion dollar collection of resorts, casinos, aquariums, watermarks and world-class dining. Along with its own thriving local fast food chains like Sammy’s Chicken and Bamboo Shack, there an American franchises like McDonald’s, KFC, and Wendy’s. A new 4G cellular system has just been unveiled and most residents can access Internet, television, electricity, potable water, and propane (from experience, most stoves seem to be gas-powered).

On the flip side however, the Bahamas is ranked with the other Caribbean countries and many surrounding Central and South American states as a member of the developing world. Mail and delivery services between the capital and the out islands is still slow-paced, much of the inner-city areas near the capital are badly overcrowded and sometimes unhealthy. Electricity flow is stable for the most part, but sometimes experiences fluctuations or island-wide blackouts. Cellular services are provided by a monopoly company recently privatized whose rates are considerably higher than its American counterparts. The electricity and water companies remain government-owned monopolies. Internet service is more diversified with the company that provides cable television also providing high-speed Internet connections that competes with the DSL provided for by the telecommunications company.

A wonderful difference from my last time here was my ability to use my credit card to pay for my Wendy’s.


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