September 23, 2022
Acting Prime Minister, and Minister ofTourism, Investments and Aviation, the Hon. I. Chester Cooper, Wednesday(September 21) assured residents of Maygauana that the DavisAdministration is committed to meeting the needs of all citizens who findthemselves in vulnerable situations.
The Acting Prime Minister’s assurance came during a meeting with islandresidents, Local Government Officials, members of the island’s DisasterConsultative Committee and other stakeholders at the conclusion of a fieldvisit to Mayaguana to personally assess any damages that may haveoccurred as a result of the impacts of Tropical Storm-Force conditionsassociated with Hurricane Fiona. The island received minimal damage.Forecasters at the Bahamas Department of Meteorology had forecast thatthe island would receive “minimal Tropical Storm-force conditionsassociated with the passage of Hurricane Fiona.”
Mr. Cooper arrived at the airport in Abraham’s Bay accompanied byMinister of Social Services and Urban Development, the Hon. Obadiah H.Wilchcombe; Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family IslandAffairs with responsibility for Local Government, the Hon. Clay Sweeting,and Mr. Joel Lewis, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Social Services andUrban Development. The Acting Prime Minister was met by Minister ofState in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for DisasterPreparedness and Emergency Response, the Hon. Myles K. LaRoda;Minister of State for the Environment, the Hon. Basil McIntosh; Mr. AlexStorr, Chairman of the Disaster Reconstruction Authority (DRA), PermanentSecretary in the Office of the Prime Minister’s Disaster Management Unit,Mr. Carl F. Smith; Captain Stephen Russell, Director, the NationalEmergency Management Agency (NEMA), and Mr. Neil Campbell, theActing Director of Local Government, in addition to Senior GovernmentOfficials from across the government sector, including the Royal BahamasPolice and Defence Forces, the Department of Social Services, theDepartment of Local Government, Bahamas Power and Light and theMinistry of Works.
Officials on the ground off-loaded supplies of water and tarpaulin flown inby the National Flag Carrier, Bahamasair, for distribution.
The delegation’s assessment tour took them to Pirate’s Well, Betsy Bay andAbraham’s Bay, assessing infrastructure such as the dock and the ReverseOsmosis (RO) Plant in Betsy Bay. The Plant services Betsy Bay and Pirate’sWell. Abraham’s Bay has its own Reverse Osmosis Plant.
Acting Prime Minister Cooper said the presence of “a full team to performthe assessment” was a further indication of the Government’s commitmentto, and support of, the citizens of Mayaguana in this instance, and indeed,the entire Bahamas
“I am here today to demonstrate, on behalf of Prime Minister Davis (PrimeMinister, the Hon. Philip E. Davis, K.C.,) who is out of the country, ourGovernment’s commitment to and support of, all of the people across theCommonwealth of The Bahamas whether you live here in Mayaguana, orRagged Island or anywhere in MICAL, or whether you live in NewProvidence, you have a government that is committed to the well-being ofall of our citizens,” Mr. Cooper said.
“It is important that we came today to demonstrate that support; that wecame in good numbers to demonstrate to you that you are not going to beforgotten, and so we brought a full team to perform this assessment. Wewere delighted to see and hear that there was no major damage. We didlook at your dock (and) clearly we recognize that there is some work to bedone. We checked out some of your major infrastructure and we do seesome work that needs to be done, and we acknowledge that there aresome roofs across the island that will be in need of some repairs. I amadvised by Captain Russell (NEMA Director, Captain Stephen Russell) thatwe did bring some tarpaulin in today on Bahamasair. We are going toensure in short order that you have as many of those as you need fortemporary fixes, but we also acknowledge the need for ongoing support toensure that you are restored back to pre-Fiona levels.
“We understand that the issues of immediacy right now relate to food andwater supply, and so we are going to be working along with the mail boatcompany, if necessary, (to further ensure these needs are met); we aregoing to cause Bahamasair to come back and bring supplies if need be.With that said NEMA, of course, is committed to doing all that is within itsremit to continue to support the people of these islands and the peoplehere in Mayaguana.”
The Acting Prime Minister told residents that the matter relative to both ofthe Reverse Osmosis Plants needing back-up generator systems will beaddressed. The island’s water supply was interrupted due to a loss ofpower.
“Notwithstanding it is good quality and modern equipment, there is needfor a back-up generator. They are reliant completely on the BPL facility andif we have a situation that BPL is down; if we have a back-up facility, itdoesn’t mean that we have to lose our water supply as well (and) so that issomething that we are going to be looking at in relation to both of the R.O.Plants. Minister McIntosh has expressed that this is a matter of concern forthe people of Mayaguana and we are going to see what we can do aboutit.”
Acting Prime Minister Cooper said the government will do all that it can toaddress the island’s needs with regards to the dock in Betsy Bay and theAirport.
“We came, we saw, we acknowledge the need. The Ministry of Works’Senior Engineer is here. He will take back his report, we will discuss it withthe Minister responsible and we will do all that we can to restore the dock.In these islands, roads and docks are critical infrastructure and we willmake every effort as quickly as we can to restore the facility and even makeit better,” the Acting Prime Minister said.
“Let me also say in relation to the Airport which falls within my remit (asMinister of Tourism, Investments and Aviation,) and I can say to the peopleof Mayaguana, that we are going to be looking very closely at building asmall terminal here much like what we did in Ragged Island to ensure that(you) have the same level of comfort for air travel as we have in otherFamily Islands. I think that is a model that we can duplicate. It was indeeddistressing what we saw there and we are going to do something about it,”Acting Prime Minister Cooper added.