$27 million spent on debris cleanup
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The government will enter into a public private partnership with the Grand Bahama Port Authority to create a Bahamian-ran salvage yard to manage derelict vehicles that have accumulated in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.
A similar project will also be slated for Abaco, according to Disaster Reconstruction Authority (DRA) managing director Katherine Forbes-Smith.
“We need to make available to properties on Abaco and Grand Bahama for the collection, crushing an export of vehicles because we have a lot of vehicles in and around the disaster zones,” Forbes-Smith told Eyewitness News.
“The salvage yard is a part of the focus on the economy…what we are saying to entrepreneurs is that this is an opportunity for someone who is interested in running a salvage yard. It’s a public private partnership. The government is going to be responsible to make sure that the utilities gets to the property.
“And then some type of lease arrangement will be made available to a business person who is interested in that type of business.
“Thats part of just addressing one of our priorities which is really stimulating the economy and also making sure Bahamians can participate in the rebuild.”
She noted that more details on the initiative will be released shortly.
Dorian struck Abaco and Grand Bahama on September 1-3, leveling communities, toppling buildings, trees, and lamp poles with over 185 mile-per-hour winds.
The Ministry of the Environment’s Debris Management Plan estimated that there was 1.09 million cubic yards of debris in the Abaco districts and another 2.09 million cubic yard of debris in Grand Bahama.
In the aftermath of the storm the government commissioned several contractors to clear down the debris from the shantytowns and public areas.
Forbes-Smith said there had to be a focus on general debris cleanup of the disaster zone in order to begin rebuilding and restoration efforts, noting that was the focus in the first six-months post-Dorian.
She advised that to date, about 3 million cubic yards of debris has been cleaned between Abaco, the Abaco Cays and Grand Bahama to the tune of about $27 million.
She said that while dozens of companies descended on the country offering their services at high cost – one contract totaling some $100 million – the government decided to spend the money in The Bahamas on Bahamian contractors on the debris management side, site management, and community cleanup.
“Obviously there were hiccups along the way,” Forbes-Smith continued.
“COVID-19 did not help a lot of what we were trying to do. I’m not blaming COVID-19 for anything but the reality is it slowed the process.”
She however furthered that 90 percent of the disaster zone is getting back to normal as it relates to the management of debris.
“We will consistently have people renovating their homes and we will consistently have the need to keep communities clean,” she added.
“As far as the debris cleanup is concerned, nine month later, we are certainly coming to the end of the road, but it is a continuous process.”