NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Central and South Abaco MP James Albury said he hopes the Constituencies Commission looks beyond the population size of storm-ravaged islands such as Abaco and can “respect the traditional layout of the Family Islands”.
He told Eyewitness News it would be “impossible” for one person to adequately represent Abaco for example, which is comprised of numerous far-flung communities.
“It is a concern for me, I’ll tell you that. I certainly hope the Boundaries Commission can respect the traditional layout of the Family Islands and how difficult it is, even if that means you have constituencies with lower overall populations; they can be much more challenging to represent because they are big areas to represent.”
The commission was appointed and named earlier this month.
Abaco has two Parliament representatives.
More than 17,000 people resided on the islands and cays.
However, thousands were displaced as a result of Hurricane Dorian last September.
“We kind of have this Nassau-centric view of these things sometimes, where we just kind of do it by population and cut it off into clean blocks in New Providence, but that’s simply just not feasible in the Family Islands,” Albury said.
“You have many far-flung communities that make up an island like Abaco.
“Trying to do something [like] reducing it to one seat because the population doesn’t warrant it, that’s not something that I think will fly.
“I think people will expect at least the same level of representation in terms of how the Boundaries Commission cuts it up.”
He continued: “It is not just a population you are looking at, but you are looking at where are you traditional settlements, how far spread out are they, and looking at the geography of the territory that you are representing.”
The MP said two years will pass swiftly, but he expects the number of returning residents to pick up in that timeframe.