“ENCOURAGING FIRST STEP”: Abaco chamber welcomes housing proposal and other infrastructure initiatives

“ENCOURAGING FIRST STEP”: Abaco chamber welcomes housing proposal and other infrastructure initiatives

Govt reviewing 150 house-building proposals for Abaco

Davis said his govt focused on “the ongoing suffering of the people”

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Abaco Chamber of Commerce Director Krista Albury said yesterday Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis’ announcement that the government is reviewing a housing proposal for 150 homes is a “breath of fresh air”.

“I am hopeful at this point, based off of what was said today and then also that was followed up by the confirmation by the Ministry of Finance that they would be extending the vehicle replacement vouchers for people in Abaco and Grand Bahama who have been affected,” she said.

“That is a fantastic, great step to take.

Abaco Chamber of Commerce Director Krista Albury.

“It is a very encouraging first step to hear, at least for us, the first really public speaking showing of the new prime minister…at the Abaco Business Outlook.

“It shows that he has seen that we’re here, that the island has several needs that need to be addressed and that he, at least during his opening remarks, acknowledged that and the many challenges that we’re facing here.

“So, I’m not going to put all of my eggs in the basket at this point, but it is a breath of fresh air.”

According to Davis, who was the keynote speaker at the Bahamas Business Outlook on Abaco, several construction types are being considered for the proposal, including modular and prefabricated housing.

As Abaco remains in a state of recovery more than two years after Hurricane Dorian stripped it of businesses, homes and livelihoods, Davis said the government must pursue building initiatives “with a bias toward action”.

“Several construction types are being considered, including modular and prefabricated housing,” he announced.

“The prefabricated housing provides for a rapid factory to be built on Abaco, with the equipment brought in and people trained to operate them.

“This is just one cost-effective option.”

Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis.

Davis empathized with the “sense of dislocation in relation to time” concerning reconstruction.

Many residents on the island prior to the deadly storm had rental properties, but reconstruction has been hampered due to budgetary constraints, shipping delays of material, a lack of labor and housing for laborers on the island, as well as focus being placed on reconstructing their primary homes.

Albury pointed out that 30 to 40 units of one-to-two-bedroom condos in Marsh Habour remain largely untouched, though some work has begun in a few of the units.

“A lot of apartment buildings that were in the Marsh Harbour and Dundas Town area…just haven’t been worked on,” she continued.

“Many of them have been labeled as condemned because of their condition, but the tear-down or restoration needed to get those up and running is a huge financial challenge during COVID times, plus Dorian times, and the big thing is for a lot of persons in Abaco, the focus has been on their primary residence or that of close friends and family…

“How can I get investment property going back up again if I have nowhere to sleep for me and my family due to a lack of labor, delayed materials and shipping challenges?”

Yesterday, Davis said while the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) harshly criticized the previous administration’s handling of the hurricane, its aftermath and the “chaotic mismanagement of the COVID-19 pandemic”, his administration is now occupied with “the ongoing suffering of the people”.

About Royston Jones Jr.

Royston Jones Jr. is a senior digital reporter and occasional TV news anchor at Eyewitness News. Since joining Eyewitness News as a digital reporter in 2018, he has done both digital and broadcast reporting, notably providing the electoral analysis for Eyewitness News’ inaugural election night coverage, “Decision Now 2021”.