NASSAU, The Bahamas – Aspects of the Over-The-Hill Community Development Partnership Initiative are taking shape with the latest being the hiring and training of environmental monitors to ensure clean and safe areas.
This particular effort sees a partnership between The Over-the-Hill Initiative and the Ministry of the Environment & Housing, which earlier this year introduced the #Be a Hero Campaign to recognize community leaders for going the extra mile.
A press conference was held Monday at the Wesley Methodist Church Hall, where some 42 Environmental Monitors have been undergoing a 10-week intense training programme being conducted by personnel from the Department of Environmental Health Services and related institutions.
Samita Ferguson Executive Manager of the Over-the-Hill Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister underscored the importance of the partnership initiative. Also present were the Hon. Romauld Ferreira, Minister of the Environment & Housing, and Members of Parliament for Centreville, and Bain and Grant’s Town, Reece Chipman and Travis Robinson, respectively.
“The Over-The-Hill Community Development Partnership Initiative is serious about its mandate to transform lives and bring rejuvenation to the Bain & Grants Town and Centerville communities,” Ferguson said.
She also noted that the Over-The-Hill Communities were known to produce “giants of society” whether from a medical, educational or business perspective.
Ferguson encouraged the trainees to remember that they are ‘change agents’ and that their names can also be heralded throughout history as individuals who made a difference in their communities. The trainees were also reminded that it did not matter “how they started, but how they finish.”
The Environmental Monitors hail from the various communities within the Over-the-Hill area. And once training is completed, their responsibilities will vary from ensuring the areas are free from environmental infractions such as illegal dumping. Monitors target areas daily, file weekly reports and present evidence that could lead to offenders being charged in a revived environmental court.
Project Manager for Over-the-Hill Initiative Rocky Nesbitt said that the cleanup campaign comprises a four-pronged approach.
He confirmed that once the monitor identifies an abandoned vehicle or another hazard, a notice would be placed on it and the owner given seven days to remove it. Failing that, the Department of Environmental Health Services will do so and the owner or responsible party will be fined and possibly face legal action in the environmental court.
Another aspect calls for doubling of regular garbage collection with twice weekly pick-ups in the targeted areas. The third aspect of the campaign deals with abandoned, derelict buildings.
Already, the first such structures were ploughed down through Rupert Dean Lane and Scott Street. The fourth phase will call for demolition to take place.
“We will not just tear down a building. We will repurpose the property so it may become a vegetable garden, a community park, a green space,” Nesbitt said.
He added, “This is how serious we are about creating a better environment and the targeted areas will serve as the model for a broader programme in conjunction with the Ministry of Environment and the Department of Environmental Health Services.
“This represents a new chapter in citizen responsibility and government initiatives and we are very excited about what it means to the future of our Bahamas.”
The Over-the-Hill Community Development Partnership Initiative, officially launched in May 2018, is built around six key pillars designed to fully restore the Over-the-Hill community communities. These areas include:
- Social Empowerment;
- Economic Empowerment;
- Smart Technology;
- Green and Sustainable Technology; and
- Programmes for the Youth and the Elderly.
The Over-the-Hill Community Development Partnership Initiative is the brainchild of Prime Minister Dr. Hubert A. Minnis, whose goal is to transform those communities into cleaner and safer environments, while economically empowering residents.
Article contributed by Lindsay Thompson – Bahamas Information Services