NEMA to delegate functions to new disaster authority

NEMA to delegate functions to new disaster authority
NEMA Director Captain Stephen Russell (FILE PHOTO)

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Disaster Reconstruction Authority Bill, 2019, makes provisions for the authority to absorb all of the National Emergency Management’s Agency’s (NEMA) function within a disaster zone.

The government tabled the bill on Tuesday which would establish an authority responsible for the management of reconstruction and restoration in an area designated as a disaster zone, following the devastation of Hurricane Dorian.

“The authority shall collaborate with the National Emergency Management Agency in carrying out its functions under this act,” the bill states.

“Where a donation is given for both relief and reconstruction, the relief portion shall go to the National Emergency Management Agency and the reconstruction portion shall go to the authority in the proportion directed by the donor and where there is no such direction, it shall be divided equally.

“The director of the National Emergency Management Agency may delegate any or all of its functions within a disaster zone to the authority where he determines it to be appropriate.”

Last month, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced the creation of a new Ministry of Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction with Iram Lewis as its minister of state.

Following the announcement, Opposition Leader Philip Brave Davis accused the prime minister of creating a new ministry to insulate himself from public backlash over the government’s handling of the Hurricane Dorian crisis.

Davis also questioned whether the new ministry had been given greater authority than what already exists within the government structure, and its agencies like NEMA.

“The PLP maintains that functional and structural reform or transformation of NEMA is necessary and will immeasurably improve the country’s capacity to deal with national emergencies of this nature,” he said.

Dorian ripped through the northwest Bahamas as a record category five storm, decimating portions of Abaco and Grand Bahama.