Despite reassurances by the government that there is a commitment to transform Ragged Island into the first “green island” in the region, residents have lamented that nothing has materialized to realize that goal.
While Ragged Islanders are in support of the initiative, many of them told Eyewitness News that they are finding it difficult to make repairs on their own, void of assistance from government, nine months after Hurricane Irma left the island in ruins.
“I support the idea but my wife and I have been calling National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) for the past few months for help and have gotten no assistance,” Jamal Munroe claimed.
“When we called, officials said they are unable to send us any assistance because the government has declared Ragged Island unlivable… that’s just not true because we live here and we need help.”
Last week Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest said, that the government was committed to Ragged Island being a test or demonstration site for what can happen in The Bahamas. He added that the government would also be investing in green technology in respect to government buildings and street lighting.
Residents, however, believe that before the transformation can take place, essential services on the island must be restored.
“We still have no nurse here on the island and the clinic has not been repaired,” one resident said.
“There is still no school and families are separated because the children are in Nassau and it seems as if the government just does not care.”
Member of Parliament (MP) for Exuma and Ragged Island Chester Cooper said, it was “most distressing” that the island remains in a sad state of disrepair.
“It is disappointing,” he said.
“We hear the fancy talk about green island and we hear the promises, but I urge government to bring normalcy back for these residents first. That is critical.”
Cooper was also on the island recently, attempting to identify suitable accommodations for public servants for the essential services that are needed.
“We must get a nurse and teachers on the ground and a postal worker. These are the services that are mandatory to restore this community,” he said.
Government has earmarked $10 million for capital work in Ragged Island and other southern islands negatively impacted by past hurricanes.