Bannister: Govt. to spend $4 million on school in Ragged Island

Minister of Public Works Desmond Bannister.

School to double as shelter for residents, a matter of “life and death”

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Minister of Public Works Desmond Bannister yesterday revealed that the government will spend $4 million to construct a new school in Ragged Island that will double as a shelter for the more than 60 residents on the southern island.

As he outlined the ongoing efforts of his ministry and the constraints in addressing certain capital works projects, namely paving on a number of Family Islands during the budget debate in Parliament, the minister said, “The ordinary Nassauvian may question spending $4 million to build a school in Ragged Island for six children that doubles as a hurricane shelter for a community of sixty, but to the residents it’s life and death.”

“Mr. Speaker, I could take examples like this from every settlement in every island.

“It’s not just a question of dollars and cents, but these are decisions that we have to make every single day.

“We try our best Mr. Speaker and in doing so we are rightly subjected to criticism.

“Our only answer is that we do our best every day with what is available to us.”

Bannister gave the example of the planned spending on Ragged Island as he explained the hard calls the ministry has to make, including decisions not to pave certain roads at this time until funds became available.

As an example, he said a road in Crooked Island that needed paving would cost approximately $100,000. Six households are on that particular road, according to the minister, who explained that from an economic analysis it may not make sense, but to those six people “getting that road paved would change their lives”.

He said, “To them it is the most important thing in the world, and we have similar situation in every island in this country.”

During his third national address in May, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced plans to inject $8 million into the reconstruction of key public infrastrucue building in Raged Island, nearly two years after the island in the southern Bahamas was devastated by Hurricane Irma, leaving it “uninhabitable”.

At the time, he said the government will construct a new $2 million school and teachers’ duplex; a $2.5 million clinic; a $2.5 million administrator’s office, Post Office and court room, as well as a new $1 million police station and accommodations.

He also announced that candidates had been shortlisted to take part in the request for proposals (RFP) for a solar generation facility in Ragged Island.

“The RFP is expected to be published soon,” Minnis said.

“Barring any unseen circumstances, the current projection for completion for such facility is by year’s-end.”

Following the storm, which cost the government an estimated $135 million, Minnis declared Ragged Island unlivable, though he vowed that it will be rebuilt.

He pledged that the island will be made a “green city”.

Months later, government officials said it will cost tens of millions of dollars to realize that vision, but little information was provided on how the promised green city would be achieved.