NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Centreville MP Reece Chipman pointed to the Minnis administration’s handling of Hurricane Dorian as the deciding factor in his decision to resign from the Free National Movement today.
Chipman further criticized the governing party’s work ethic as he hit out against the damaging impact of partisan politics on democracy during an afternoon press conference.
He said his discontent over the party’s direction has been fermenting since his resignation from the Public Accounts Committee in January.
“Our laws are in place,” Chipman said, referring to the proposed amendments to the Disaster Preparedness and Response Act tabled in House of Assembly last week.
“Don’t let them bring these new laws over and over again, pretending as if they are doing something. We have a constitution that deals with disaster, we have an emergency act of 1974 that dealt with it, and now we have a Disaster Preparedness Act that deals with it in 2008.
“So go to work, stop wringing paper and throwing it in the House of Assembly, and pretending we’re doing something. The idea is that if you really care about people, there is no need to try fool them.”
Hurricane Dorian laid waste to portions of Abaco and Grand Bahama, killing at least 61 people during September 1-3.
Chipman suggested more lives could have been saved if the government followed the existing Disaster Preparedness and Response Act, which was passed in 2008 and called for annual review and planning.
“I’m not saying we would have saved all of the lives, but at the very least we would have done what we were supposed to do to ensure that lives were not lost,” he said.
Chipman insisted Parliament ought to be held accountable for the lives lost during the storm and the “terrible” Equinor oil spill in east Grand Bahama.
The terminal at South Riding Point had 1.8 million barrels of crude oil stored when Dorian hit. The 36,000 barrels recovered to date amounts to some 1.4 million gallons of oil.
Chipman said: “Where is the agreement between Equinor and the government, where is the annual disaster plan that should have been signed off by the PM for almost two years now as is required by law – too much is at stake.”
“It was a big thing for me,” Chipman continued during the question and answer period.
“When Bahamians lives are lost, and the way you would have seen lives on the street.
“Definitely, there is some accountability that needs to take place from the government,” he added.
Parliamentary debate on the amendment bill began on Wednesday.
Chipman said he could not confirm at this time whether he will ultimately support the bill in the Lower House.