NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The government is seeking to address incidents of residents on Abaco “arbitrarily burning” debris in Hurricane Dorian impacted areas, said Thomasina Wilson, Senior Deputy Director of Department of Environmental Heath Services yesterday.
Reports have been circulating of residents in the Abaco Cays, specifically Green Turtle Cay, burning heaps of gathered trash, inclusive of household items, trees, rubble and more.
“[The government] has set up some barges to remove the debris off of the cays to the mainland,” Wilson told Eyewitness News Online.
“There’s not supposed to be any burning going on.
“Persons who are burning are arbitrarily burning debris.
“The government is not instrumental in burning any debris.”
In a statement earlier this month, Rights Bahamas pointed to the issue warning that bodies could be amid the burning debris and calling on the government to clarify whether it was at its behest and urging them to “cease and desist”.
Public Works Minister Desmond Bannister told Tribune that investigations were being carried out regarding the matter.
Asked yesterday if the issue was being addressed, Wilson said, “We can not address that right now because we don’t know who’s burning.
“What the government is doing is trying to manage the set down sites…The arbiratrary burning is happening on the regular disposal sites. The government is about to try to address that because residents themselves are the ones who are going in there and burning.”
Wilson has responsibility for the two set down sites in Spring City and Treasure Cay. She notes that one debris is brought to those sites, she ensures that it is managed properly.
The government has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to aid clean-up and debris management of Hurricane Dorian-impacted areas.
Minnis noted the UNDP will assist with monitoring, evaluation and technical assistance, providing guidance to the Department of Environmental Health and the Department of Public Works contractors to enhance debris disposal.
He said the organization will provide advice on the prevention of debris burning, accumulation of stagnant water and proliferation of disease vectors; and advice on recycling and garbage sorting, storage site and management strategies.
The group will also provide support for debris clearance and barge export from the Abaco Cays.