NASSAU, BAHAMAS- Prime Minister Dr. Huber Minnis announced yesterday the government’s $6.4 million temporary housing facility for Hurricane Dorian victims on Abaco will only be in place for two years.
Minnis gave a report on restoration and recovery efforts in the Abacos, following a three-day trip to the island with other government ministers.
He further invited all Bahamians to visit the storm-ravaged island, so that they could have a “better appreciation of what we face and how we’re moving”.
“I think all Bahamians should go,” Minnis said.
“This is history and I think they should be a part of history, so that when they speak to their children and grandchildren, they can speak from experience.”
His comments came just hours before an international humanitarian group blasted the government over alleged failures on the island in the aftermath of the storm.
At the press conference, Minnis underscored there is still a long road to recovery and reconstruction; however, he said “there is progress on the ground across Abaco”.
Minnis said assessments were conducted in Marsh Harbour, Cooper’s Town, Dundas Town, Blackwood, Sandbanks, Spring City, Elbow Cay and Man-O-War Cay.
He pointed to several key government initiatives that would see the island return to some form of normalcy.
Among those is the government’s plan to build a Family Relief Centre, that would span across 12 acres of land and include 250 dome structures with plumbing, drainage, a sewer system, and electricity.
“The infrastructure from the Family Relief Centre will remain in place to accommodate permanent housing on the same site, which is near the Spring City Subdivision,” Minnis said. “The temporary domes will be removed as individuals and families move to
“The Family Relief Center will be located on government land and will be enclosed.
“It is anticipated that the Family Relief Center will be in place for approximately 24 months.”
He added that the land has been cleared, infrastructure materials are arriving and trailers for the workers to build the domes are already on site.
In addition to general reconstruction efforts, Minnis said regular economic activity must resume throughout Abaco, including areas not destroyed by the storm.
“The government is working aggressively to reopen the Marsh Harbour airport by this week,” he continued.
“We are pushing aggressively, the relevant individuals and agencies to rather than aim at this week, we are aiming at Wednesday.
“This is essential for reconstruction and economic recovery.”
Minnis noted that resorts in South Abaco, which employ Marsh Harbour and Central Abaco residents, are opened and can receive guests.
Hurricane Dorian slammed into Grand Bahama and Abaco on September 1-3, leaving devastation in its path.
More than a month later, the islands remain in recovery mode without electricity and potable water in portions of the impacted areas. Many of the government services have yet to resume on Abaco.
However, Minnis advised yesterday that the central government is deploying hundreds of government personnel from every ministry and major agencies on the ground to coordinate and to help with recovery and reconstruction
“This is the largest deployment of government personnel in the history of the country in the aftermath of a natural disaster,” he said.
Beginning this week, Abaco residents will be able to utilize the government’s one-stop-shop facility which will include the Ministry of Works, Department of Environmental Health, Customs, Local Government, NIB, Department of Inland Revenue and the Small Business Development Centre.
Minnis added: “The government is considering additional economic concessions to help in the rebuilding and recovery efforts.”
During his progress report to the media, the prime minister also also announced key timelines for the restoration of the island’s essential services and infrastructure.
Minnis said government-operated schools in Abaco are expected to reopen in January.
He noted that Bahamas Power and Light is also making progress with the help of CARILEC partners including, the British Virgin Islands, Belize, Antigua and the Cayman Islands.
“Power has been fully restored to South Abaco, Moores Island, and to Grand Cay,” he said.
“Power is expected to be restored to North Abaco by the first week of November, and to Green Turtle Cay by mid-November.”
He added the Tesla Corporation has installed solar panels to power the command centre on Man-O-War Cay, and announced government is currently in discussions with an international corporation to install underground infrastructure for power on Elbow Cay.
Minnis said these discussions will not obstruct the progress of getting power on Elbow Cay.