Ragged Island Association watchful of PM’s $8 million commitment

Association chair says there has been no movement on the ground

NASSAU, BAHAMAS –  While there have been expressions of hope in some quarters since Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced an $8 million restorative investment in Ragged Island, Restoration Ragged Island Association Chairman Ellery Lockhart said in the absence of specifics, including a timeline for design, rcontract award and the building of key infrastructure, the association remains wary.

“All this [appears to be] more talk,” he told Eyewitness News Online.

“We asked them to pick one building and start with one building and all of a sudden they… say they are going to do all of them.

“Let’s see what they are going to do.

He continued, “We have not heard about any plans, nothing going out to tender.

“All of this is an announcement from the prime minister.

“You don’t hear anything from the Office of the Prime Minster begin announced when any capital works is going [forward]. You don’t see any advertisements in the paper for tender of for soliciting bids from contractors. We want to know what’s going on.”

Asked whether the announcement gave him hope that the island will finally be rebuilt, Lockhart said, “Nothing. There is nothing.

“Nothing has been going on and each and every time you call them and talk to them, there is nothing. And then, right out of the blue there is this is what you hear.

“We just are going to wait and see what they are going to do, not what they say.”

In his third national address last Monday, Minnis said the government will construct a new $2 million school and teachers’ duplex; a $2.5 million clinic; a $2.5 million administrator’s office, Post Office and court room, as well as a new $1 million police station and accommodations.

He nor the government has provided a timeline for full restoration of critical services, despite the recent announcement.

It has been nearly two years since Hurricane Irma barreled its way through the islands of The Bahamas.

Ragged Island was among the hardest hit by the storm in September 2017.

After the brutal storm, the prime minister declared the island uninhabitable, a status that has lingered since in the absence of critical services.

He promised not to turn Ragged Island into a “green city” and assured residents that the Minnis administration would rebuild.

It was subsequently revealed that it would cost tens of millions of dollars to realize that vision.

Ahead of the 2018 hurricane season, the association called on the government to address immediate concerns, ranging from the island’s need for medical personal to the lack of a clinic, police station, administrative building and school.

The start of the 2019 hurricane season begins Saturday.

There are reportedly fewer than 60 residents on the island.