||Last Updated: Dec 7, 2017 - 1:45:05 PM
Statement by I. Chester Cooper MP Exumas & Ragged Island PLP Deputy Leader ON December 5, 2017:
I note a story in today’s Nassau Guardian Business section that quotes an Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) official who remarked that “it doesn’t make sense” to rebuild Ragged Island because it would be too costly.
With all due respect to the IDB, that academic assessment of Ragged Island is not something that the Bahamian people should at all take seriously.
Further, the inalienable rights of the people of Ragged Island to live in their ancestral home are not something The Bahamas should entertain any compromise on.
We will live where we have every legal right to be.
Ragged Islanders have pledged to recover and rebuild on Ragged Island no matter the length of time and effort it takes, and they have my full support in doing so.
So that suggestion by the IDB is a non-starter and it is encouraging that the minister of finance has dismissed it.
However, it is important to note that Prime Minister Minnis’ promise of rebuilding Ragged Island as a “green island” has, so far, amounted to nothing more than empty talk.
Ragged Islanders need basic services that all Bahamians are entitled to, to survive with dignity NOW.
Though it is understandable that recovery takes time, it has been approximately four months since Hurricane Irma devastated Ragged Island and government has done little to fulfill its commitments and get on with the rebuilding of Ragged Island.
The Minnis administration needs to better articulate its “Green plan” and put it in action.
So far, all we’ve gotten is a catch phrase from the prime minister.
What we need is action.
Though there are defense force personnel, there are no police on the island; maybe because they have no living quarters, but it is still inexcusable in the interests of law and order and good governance.
To date, there is still no nurse or doctor on Ragged Island, nor are there residences for them. By now, there ought to have been temporary accommodations. This basic need is not a luxury it is a necessity to which all Bahamians are entitled to access.
There is no teacher on Ragged Island and the school remains destroyed without even temporary facilities for learning.
Thankfully, Bahamas Power and Light has restored power to most of overhead lines as before the storm.
However, water services have not fully been restored.
Public buildings remain in ruins.
The salt pond, which was experiencing issues with the drain before the storm, is now more like a bay, disabling a much-needed revenue supply for Ragged Islanders.
To date, the Government has provided no assistance with building supplies whatsoever.
Despite the minister of finance’s claim that government is exploring avenues for recovery, the recovery is not happening fast enough, and not being communicated to the stakeholders.
The Minnis administration must do better, faster.
Its current efforts are just not good enough.
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