NASSAU, BAHAMAS — In a wide-ranging statement, Free National Movement Michael Pintard yesterday raised concerns over what he described as “governmental negligence” at the Department of Meteorology.
His comments came as The Bahamas continues to warily watch the progress of Hurricane Lee, an intensifying storm trekking through the Atlantic Ocean.
Describing the physical state of the Met Office as the result of “systemic dysfunction,” Pintard pointed to unsafe conditions, staff departures and inoperable equipment as reasons for alarm.
“Shockingly, the Upper Air Section of the Met Office has been dormant for an alarming four years,” he noted.
“The facts are stark: the radars crucial for tracking hurricanes are still non-operational since the devastation of Hurricane Dorian.
“The very building itself stands as a testament to governmental negligence; its roof collapsed six weeks ago, rendering the workspace unusable.
“Three dedicated forecasters—our frontline defense against natural disasters—have been forced to resign due to these deplorable conditions as the building is infested with mold,” Pintard claimed.
Addressing hurricane shelters, Pintard said that too many are “incomplete and unready.”
“This is not the time to be caught flat-footed,” the Opposition Leader wrote.
“We in the Opposition call upon the Davis Administration to take immediate and decisive action to rectify these deficiencies, ensuring that our nation is adequately prepared for the challenges that lie ahead.
“We must not let the lessons of Hurricane Matthew and Dorian go unheeded, and we must demand accountability from our government.”
Pintard continued: “Successive administrations promised the Bahamian people that they would put in place the necessary policies, procedures, infrastructure, and personnel to better prepare us for catastrophic events.
“To varying degrees’ work has been done toward this end but we have a long way to go.
“Regrettably, thousands of our citizens in desperate need of assistance post-Dorian are still waiting for meaningful help.”
While Pintard claimed that the last FNM administration “helped thousands,” he conceded that they did not “touch every hurting family” before demitting office.
Still, he chided the Davis-led administration for being “slower” in providing house repairs and business rejuvenation relief.
“In 2019, as a sitting Cabinet Minister, I called for a greater sense of urgency from the former administration as it responded to Hurricane Dorian,” Pintard noted.
“With a different party at the helm of governance, my sentiments today are no different.”
His comments were a reference to remarks he made in Parliament in December 2019, some four months after the deadly Hurricane Dorian.
At the time, Pintard, a Cabinet minister in the former Minnis-led administration, said the government should pick up the pace on promised relief initiatives.
“Are we moving at the right pace? Mr. Speaker, I want to humbly submit that there has to be a greater sense of urgency,” he said at the time.
“That means that we are to be more collaborative. The public continues to make that point to us.
“There are some talented people in the business community that just want the government to get out of the way,” Pintard stated.