Govt. “ahead of schedule” with disaster recovery, says PM

Govt. “ahead of schedule” with disaster recovery, says PM
Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis speaks to Bahamian media during a tour of a sustainable housing community in Barbados on Wednesday. (OPM Communications)

PM and delegation return from CARICOM meetings in Barbados

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis yesterday slammed critics of the government’s pace of recovery in Grand Bahama and Abaco in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, declaring that in comparison to other countries faced with similar disasters, The Bahamas’ is “really ahead of schedule”.

Speaking to reporters in the diplomatic lounge of the Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA) after returning from CARICOM meetings in Barbados, the prime minister said The Bahamas is well on pace given the magnitude of devastation caused by the Category 5 storm last September.

“Yes, we were hampered by Dorian and we spoke a lot about rebuilding and rebuilding with resiliency, and some may say we are moving slow, but when we do a comparison with other nations that have experienced disasters — but not of that magnitude — we are really ahead of schedule,” Minnis said.

“We are doing very well. Dominica has gone through that and throughout the process we would have been in communication with all the relevant CARICOM nations that have experienced that, so that we would not have reinvented the wheel.”

Dorian, a record storm, laid waste to portions of Grand Bahama and Abaco nearly six months ago, affecting nearly 30,000 people and killing at least 71.

According to police, 54 people remain missing from both islands.

The opposition has been critical of the recovery process, lamenting the time it has taken to rebuild in the affected islands, particularly with the government’s Small Home Repair program.

The program, launched this month, allows Bahamians impacted to access up to $10,000 in funds for repairs.

There have been criticisms from some quarters that the amount is insufficient.

In response, Minnis said: “We will be guided again by international organizations. You may find that they come and make more contributions. The Bahamas government — no country by itself can do it, and The Bahamas, we are a small and we recognized from day one that we could not do it alone and that is why; thank God we had all the assistance of other countries and NGOs. So, as they make more contributions, we will be able to do more. But we will do all that we can.”

Low-cost housing development

While in Barbados the prime minister toured a housing facility, comprised of hurricane and earthquake resistant homes.

He said 30 such homes were being constructed per month.

Low-cost housing development in Barbados. (photo courtesy of Yontalay Bowe)

Minnis said these low-income homes were built on pilings that cannot be seen and can withstand Category 5 hurricanes.

“Just recently in New providence we experience earth tremors,” he said.

“That’s something that we have never felt before. Therefore, global changes are coming; climate change is a reality and we can expect other changes.

He continued: “The development itself and it is a great opportunity for Bahamians because it is a self-contained development and they are low-income homes; low-income to lower-middle income and if you see the homes, you will be more than satisfied.”

He said these homes are built to resist flooding, with solarized utility facilities, and a town center within the 100-acre development for sporting complex and a pre-school, and school, as well as supermarkets, restaurants, and other storefronts.

Last month, the prime minister said the storm forced The Bahamas to rethink its construction and resilience, insisting that “we must build resilience and that well will and that we must”.