Report to Parliament on Hurricane Irene Recovery

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October 05, 2011

Mr. Speaker:

I make this communication today to provide Honourable Members with a status report on our programme of recovery and reconstruction following upon the passage of Hurricane Irene through our entire archipelago between on 24-25th August, 2011. I advise that in the ten day period following the passage of the hurricane I was able to visit all of the hardest hit islands and to also survey damages experienced around our Capital City.

Hurricane Irene was an extremely big, category three hurricane. The centre of the storm (with up to 125 mph winds) passed between Mayaguana and Inagua on late Tuesday 23rd and then travelled in a NW and then NNW direction over the islands of Acklins, Crooked Island, Rum Cay and Cat Island, with the storm being closest to New Providence when centred over N Eleuthera, on the morning of Thursday 25th August.

Hence, hurricane force winds were experienced on virtually every island in our chain and even those few islands which escaped the full force of the hurricane experienced tropical storm force winds. While heavy rains did not accompany the height of the storm in The Bahamas, very heavy rainfall did follow the storm escalating some of the damage.

Many family islands suffered damages to both private properties and government buildings with roofs reported blown off or houses completely demolished in several islands. Initially worst damage reported was for Acklins Island where 90% of Lovely Bay settlement was mistakenly reported destroyed, but this report was subsequently downgraded to reflect that 90% of buildings were damaged to some degree.

In fact Cat Island, Exuma, Rum Cay, Abaco Crooked Islands and Eleuthera Islands were worse hit, with Orange Creek settlement on Cat Island experiencing probably 20% of buildings rendered uninhabitable, and Rum Cay suffering the complete loss of the bridge connecting Nelson Island and significant damage to the dock.

Significant damages occurred to other infrastructure with many islands experiencing BEC poles down, road washout and sections of seawalls destroyed as well as numerous docks being extensively damaged.

I commend the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the police and defence forces local government personnel, members of Town Committees and District Councils, and all public officers and volunteers involved in the coordination of our preparedness and emergency response to the storm. I particularly single out the officers of the Royal Bahamas Police and Defence Forces, first responders who continue even now to provide yeoman service to those most seriously impacted by the storm.

We are grateful that notwithstanding the wide impact of the storm around our country, we suffered no fatalities and that though extensive in some particular communities around our country damage to public and private properties appear manageable. The same is true of damages experienced by farmers, particularly in Abaco, Exuma and Long Island and by fishermen on a number of islands who suffered damage to their boats and or equipment.

The first 72 hours following the storm were critical to our ability to assess and respond to emergencies created by the storm. Loss of communication particularly with Cat Island and parts of Abaco was of special concern.

I express special appreciation to the United States Government which made a DEA helicopter available to us providing some of the first aerial surveillance of the damages resulting from the hurricane even before the hurricane had completely left the boundaries of our country on the 25th September.

We are also indebted to a number of private citizens, NGO and Regional Governmental Organizations who provided assistance and support in the early hours following the storm.

I single out a number of second home owners, Mr. and Mrs. Harry McPike of Paradise Island and H.E. the Aga Khan who provided helicopter transportation for me and for teams of Ministers and senior Government officials in the hours following the passing of the storm permitting us to access affected islands in the south central and far southern Bahamas in a timely fashion.

The rapidity with which the Civil Aviation Department was able to clear Family Island Airports to receive aircraft also assisted in accelerating the delivery of emergency supplies of water and food stuff. I note that in addition to the Defence Force aircraft, Bahamasair was able to accommodate the early transport of additional support, human and material, to first responders on the ground in impacted communities in Cat Island, Acklins, Mayaguana, Rum Cay and Eleuthera and elsewhere around the country.

The volunteer assistance of the Pathfinder/Eagle Wings out of South Florida and of Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) in providing rapid assessment reports of damage to infrastructure and to private residences and businesses in Abaco, Eleuthera and Cat Island has proven invaluable to the Department of Public Works and the Social Services Department in conducting their more detailed assessments and in determining levels of assistance required to be delivered by NEMA.

Immediately following the storm NEMA, with the support of The Bahamas Red Cross, the Salvation Army, St. Andrew’s School among other private donors, commenced emergency delivery of water, food and other emergency supplies including tarps and building supplies, to affected islands, notably Cat Island, Eleuthera, Acklins, Mayaguana, Ragged Island and Rum Cay.

Several local businesses also contributed to the recovery programme through cash donations and or contributions in kind including Blanco Bleach which donated Bleach & Chlorine tablets and Sinclair Rental Tools which donated 2 (5kw) generators and a variety of power tools.

These donated goods were generally transported via Defence Force vessels and aircraft and by Bahamasair but also via scheduled mail boat service.

The United States Agency for International Development, and its Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA) made a contribution of 16 generators, which were purchased locally, in addition to collapsible water bottles, chainsaws and plastic tarps with a total estimated value $50,000.

Countess Beatrice Vonder Shulenberger of the Exuma Cays organized the delivery of some 25 back pack pesticide sprayers to be distributed by the Department of Environmental Health Services to Government-operated schools in New Providence to improve control and elimination of mosquito breeding areas created by the heavy rainfall associated with the storm.

Among the host of private donors, Mr. Charles Luck IV of Luck Stone Corporation in Virginia, a second home owner in Winding Bay, Abaco, arranged for a supply of water, granola, flashlights, batteries and blue tarps to be flown to Acklins on his private plane just days following the passage of the storm.

Similarly, Mr. Chris Illings, a resident of New Providence but whose family own and operate the Greenwood Resort in south Cat Island arranged for the purchase and delivery to Cat Island of some $25,000 worth of building materials secured from southern Florida for distribution among residents in south Cat Island who suffered damages to their homes.



The owners and developers of the PGA Resort at Old Bight, Cat Island made heavy equipment from the development available to assist with road clearing in the aftermath of the storm.

I advise also that NEMA directed assistance offered by the Jamaican Government, be delivered directed to Mayaguana and Acklins. And, supplies originally directed to Abaco by the Pathfinder/Eagle Wings Association were redirected by Abaco to Cat Island, where the need was greater. I want to acknowledge also the donation of free transportation of these goods between Abaco and Nassau by the M/V Earnest Dean for onward transport to Cat Island by NEMA.

I also wish to acknowledge the assistance of the I-Group in Mayaguana.

Also, so as to ensure the orderly receipt and distribution of relief and reconstruction goods NEMA posted Mr. John Nixon from the Ministry of Tourism to serve as NEMA’s Liaison Officer in Cat Island, a role he performed with great success in Inagua following the passage of Hurricane Ike in 2009.

NEMA has received cash donations toward its relief and reconstruction programme. All such funds are being deposited into NEMA’s Donations Account. Private donors and international and regional governmental agencies have also contributed to NEMA’s Recovery Fund as follows:

Kerzner International $ 500, 000

The Government of the People’s Republic of China $ 300,000

Commonwealth Bank $ 25,000

Lyford Cay Foundation $ 10,000

Mr. and Mrs Wallace Rolle $ 10,000

St. Andrews School Ltd. $ 5,000

The Seven Days Adventist Church $ 4,000

Mount Tabor Full Gospel Baptist Church $ 2,500

Societe Generale – Private Banking $ 2,000

Bahamas Consulate General in Miami, Florida (cash contributions) $ 2,600

Total $ 861,100.

I also advise that an anonymous donation of building materials valued at $50,000 was received for the benefit of residents of Cat Island.

Mr. Speaker:

Honourable members may recall the criteria for the use of donated relief funds were first enunciated to govern the expenditure of cash donations received in relation to Hurricane Andrew in 1992. The same criteria continue to be applied to expenditure from the NEMA Donations Account today, i.e.:

1. The Donations Account is a “standing fund” into which private donations are deposited to assist with emergency relief efforts following disasters;

2. The administration of the Account is the responsibility of the Secretary to the Cabinet who assigns a senior administrative officer (i.e. The Director of NEMA) and a Finance Officer to supervise expenditure from the account;

3. The Government makes no administrative charges to the Donations Account;

4. No public infrastructure or capital works may be repaired or reinstated by the resources of the Donations Account;

5. Deposits to the Donations Account can be applied to the following:

-emergency relief (acquisition and delivery of water, food, and emergency supplies);

-clean-up of debris resulting from the Hurricane, including trucking and disposal of debris; -repair and reconstruction efforts (purchase of building and construction materials for distribution to uninsured private home owners experiencing serious damage to their dwellings); and -purchase or rental of equipment not readily available in Government Ministries and Departments but required in the restoration and reconstruction process.

Mr. Speaker:

To the extent that private contracts are required to carry out repairs and construction works to private houses, the resources of the Donations Account may be expended on labour costs. Additionally, room and board costs associated with volunteers donating labour to a reconstruction effort may also be charged to the Fund.

I wish to emphasize that no monies from the Donations Account are expended on the restoration of any public infrastructure or Government buildings whether administrative, schools or clinics.

Honourable members are aware that one of the primary reasons for the establishment of NEMA was to establish an organized response by the Government to disasters both natural and manmade. This response is particularly important to those segments of our population least able to help themselves in times of crisis or disasters– the uninsured, the aged and the indigent.

For the purpose of accessing hurricane reconstruction relief NEMA has adopted the established criteria used to determine eligibility under other existing community assistance programmes for the elderly, the disabled, and for low-income and/or indigent individuals. These criteria are:

(a) be Bahamian citizens residing in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas in owner occupied homes during the hurricane; (b) be old age pensioners, disabled persons or indigent persons who are receiving old age non contributory pension or invalidity assistance from the National Insurance Board, or Disability Allowance from the Department of Social Services and have insufficient funds to make necessary repairs to their places of residence.

Mr. Speaker:

As Honourable members will be aware, the Caribbean Development Bank has made available to NEMA an emergency relief assistance grant of up to $200,000. Of this sum, some $21,000, covered expenses incurred by the CDEMA teams which conducted the rapid assessment survey teams in Cat Island.

Recently, while in Washington in connection with the World Bank and IMF Annual Meetings, I signed an agreement with the Inter American Development Bank which will make some US$200,000 worth of technical cooperation available in support of the Government’s programme to provide humanitarian assistance to the residents of islands most severely impacted by Hurricane Irene, that is, Eleuthera, Cat Island, Long Island, Rum Cay, Acklins, Crooked Island and Mayaguana.

Mr. Speaker:

Some four weeks following the passing of the hurricane NEMA reports expenditure of over in excess of $1 million in clean-up exercises around New Providence, Abaco, Acklins, Cat Island, Crooked Island, Eleuthera, Harbour Island, Exuma, Ragged Island, Grand Bahamas, Long Island, Mayaguana, and San Salvador.

Mr. Speaker

Honourable Members are aware that on 30th August, 2011 in my capacity as Minister of Finance, I signed an Exigency Order allowing for duty exemptions for goods necessary for the relief of residents and businesses and for those engaged in the agricultural and fisheries industries around our country.

The Order provides for the waiver of duties on the importation of building materials, electrical and plumbing fixtures and materials, household furniture, furnishing and appliances as required for the relief of residents in the Islands listed in Schedules of the Order: Cat Island, Acklins, Long Cay, Mayaguana, Rum Cay, San Salvador, Inagua, Ragged Island and Crooked Island. The duty waivers are in effect for 6 months for Cat Island and Acklins the hardest hit islands. For the remainder of the islands listed the exemption is for 3 months.

The Order also provides for duty exemptions for the replacement of vehicles, cycles or carts destroyed by the hurricane and for the replacement of destroyed and damaged agricultural supplies and fisheries equipment.

All requests for duty waiver on goods require the certification of the Local Government Administrator that the goods are for the relief of victims of the hurricane and verification that replacement goods are for items destroyed by the hurricane. Where relief and replacement items relate to either the agricultural or fisheries sector, these will require the certification of the Director of Fisheries or the Director of Agriculture.

Individuals resident on islands not listed in the Exigency Order but who have suffered damage or losses as a result of Hurricane Irene are also able to purchase replacement goods and or building supplies as appropriate under the provisions of the Exigency Order. The public has been advised to submit claims for duty waiver on hurricane repair and reconstruction supplies to NEMA for consideration. The Ministry of Finance made special Application Forms for Customs’ Duty waivers on imports connected to the repair of damages resulting from Hurricane Irene available at the NEMA office in New Providence and at the offices of all Family Island Administrators in each of the Family Islands.

I use this occasion to remind that where materials and replacement goods are purchased in The Bahamas the affected individual may apply for Customs’ Duty refund. Such claims must be submitted to NEMA and each claim certified by the appropriate Family Island Administrator or the designated official at NEMA.

Mr. Speaker:

These are still early days, and we fully expect that quantities of imported reconstruction supplies and replacement goods will continue to be approved in the months ahead. Already NEMA has considered applications from in excess of 65 requests for duty waivers from 50 plus residential claimants and 15 businesses claims for individuals and resorts and businesses located in Abaco, Acklins, Cat Island, Eleuthera, Spanish Wells, Exuma, Long Island, and New Providence.

I am advised that as of 29th September, the Customs Department had processed duty waivers under the Exigency Order, on the importation of hurricane reconstruction supplies and replacement appliances with a total value of $170,599.07. Ordinarily these good would have attracted customs duties of some $42,705.87.

Mr. Speaker:

The scale of damage to BEC infrastructure in Eleuthera and Cat Island has been extensive requiring the replacement of some 40 polls in Cat Island and 100 in Eleuthera. Notwithstanding, with the timely assistance of teams of CARILIEC linesmen from Jamaica and Barbados electricity was restored to all BEC clients within one month of the storms passing, ahead of initial projections.

The Water and Sewerage Corporation report all operational challenges related to Hurricane Irene have been addressed and customers returned to service throughout The Bahamas. The Corporation estimates costs of repairs as of late September at just under $100,000.

While the vast majority of public infrastructure – government administrative buildings, schools, clinics, air and sea ports, docks and sea walls -- withstood the storm well, information now indicates that as many as 328 private dwellings of the several thousand sustaining damages from the hurricane may qualify for repair and or reconstruction assistance from NEMA’s Donation Account.

Teams from the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, Royal Bahamas Police Force, and the Ministry of Public Works & Transport are presently in Cat Island, Long Island, Acklins and Crooked Island, and have commenced repairs. And teams from the Methodist Habitat Organization have also assembled in Cat Island to assist in NEMA’s reconstruction programme.

In conjunction with NEMA, two Cat Island natives, Dr. Debra Rose and Pricilla Rose have successfully recruited the volunteer assistance of a team of 19 officers and cadets from the International ALERT Academy in East Texas for a 2 week period between 26th September and today, 5th October to assist with repair and reconstruction efforts in Cat Island.

While building supplies continue to be sourced in New Providence and abroad as required for shipment to affected islands, NEMA has also established Standing Orders with nine Family Island hardware stores so that to the extent possible, expenditure for construction materials will be spent in the damaged communities themselves thereby contributing to the economic life of the islands.

At present standing orders have been set up with hardware and building supply businesses in Long Island (1), Eleuthera (4), Abaco (2), and Grand Bahama (2).

These accounts, each with a value limit of $20,000 are being administered by Family Island Administrators in conjunction with the Department of Social Services and the Ministry of Public Works & Transport.

I am advised that some four weeks following the passage of Hurricane Irene, insurance representatives provided a picture of the financial impact of the storm upon Bahamas business and private residential properties. However, we must be mindful that while an initial surge of claims that normally follow a catastrophe event may subside, there are likely to be a number of late reported claims and claim development activities for some time to come.

The industry now projects that overall market loss, for local property and casualty companies domiciled in The Bahamas will range from $35 million to $40 million across all lines of business, principally, personal and commercial properties, buildings under construction, automobiles and marine exposures.

Auto and marine covers are expected to result in less than $1 million in each category, with the balance allocated to the personal and commercial property exposures (inclusive of buildings under construction).

The total expected number of claims is 3000 for all lines combined, with roughly 75% being personal lines (primarily homes) and 25% commercial.

The geographical spread for reported losses or claims count, among the Islands of The Bahamas, is anticipated to reflect the following:

a. Abaco – 30% of all personal lines claims and 15% of all commercial claims.

b. Eleuthera – 25% of all personal lines claims and 30% of all commercial claims.

c. New Providence – 30% of all personal lines claims and 25% of all commercial claims.

d. All Others – 15% of all personal lines claims and 30% of all commercial claims.

The funding of these claims is ultimately going to be shared between the local companies and reinsures, with an estimated $6-8 million being funded locally, and the balance by way of reinsurance recoveries.

Not included in the above are the losses and recoveries associated with risks that are placed outside of the local network of companies.

Mr. Speaker:

I am pleased to confirm that notwithstanding the impact of Hurricane Irene around our country, all government-operated schools opened the September, 2011 school year on schedule on 5th September, 2011 with the exception of schools on Acklins, Crooked Island, and Cat Island and the George Town Primary School where damages to the school facilities, and or to the homes of many residents made operation of the schools impossible.

The challenges related to damages to schools are being addressed as are outstanding staffing needs. I am advised that specialists’ teachers are still required for the high schools in the MICAL and Cat Island Districts.

MICAL DISTRICT

The devastation of the schools in Acklins and Crooked Island accounts for approximately one half of this cost with the major damage sustained by the first Central High School in The Bahamas, Crooked Island High School. An entire four classroom block inclusive of the roof, walls, ceilings, electrical fixtures, furniture, equipment and instructional material were destroyed. Some $500,000.00 will be required to rebuild this block.

To ensure the continuity of the students’ education, provisions were made immediately for classes to be held at the Bay Front Retreat in Colonel Hill where the 60 students and 7 teachers reported for duty on the 2nd day after the reopening of school.

The Cabbage Hill Primary School received minor damage to the roof and ceiling of the Tuck Shop and bathroom, and the teacher’s cottage at Colonel Hill was totally destroyed.

The District Administrator, in conjunction with the Ministry of Works and Ministry of Education project officers are currently finalizing the scope of works for Crooked Island High School, in preparation for public or selective tender. It is the Government’s intention to restore this historic high school bearing in mind its place in the progress of education in our nation, while recognizing the size of the schools and potential for growth in the MICAL district.

On Acklins, the Central High School, the Snug Corner Primary, the Salina Point Primary and Lovely Bay Primary and the teachers’ cottages at Lovely Bay and Snug Corner received damage.

Acklins High School sustained damage to the roof of the toilet block and the electrical system, with an estimated $20,000.00 for repairs. Major damage was sustained to the roof and ceilings of classrooms and to the windows in the tuck shop of the Snug Corner Primary School. We estimate that some $20,000.00 will be required to repair this school.

To ensure the continuity of the education of the students in the affected schools in Acklins, they are being housed as follows: Snug Corner Primary relocated to the Church of God of Prophecy and the Principal was relocated from Teachers Cottage to rental accommodation.

The minor repairs will be addressed through small contracts under the supervision of the Island Administrators and the District Superintendent.

CAT ISLAND, RUM CAY AND SAN SALVADOR

The schools at San Salvador and Rum Cay received little or no damage except for minor damage to the roof of San Salvador High School resulting in water damage to some equipment and supplies.

On Cat Island, all the schools in addition to the Library and Media Centre received roof, ceiling, and window damage which contributed to the destruction of equipment and other supplies.

The Old Bight High School received the greatest damage and it is estimated that $60,000.00 of repairs will be required. The management of these repairs inclusive of the development of scopes of works and the award of small contracts has been outsourced to ensure focused attention and completion of work in the shortest period of time. The work is expected to begin as early as next week at a total cost of $119,195.00.

EXUMA AND RAGGED ISLAND

The George Town Primary School and the L. N. Coakley High School both sustained damage to the roof, ceiling, floor and cupboards. Some $64,000 worth of repairs were given priority attention and permitted the timely reopening of school.

ELEUTHERA

The schools in the Eleuthera District sustained damages resulting in some $148,530.00 worth of repairs. With the exception of Preston Albury High School and the Gregory Town Primary School which sustained major roof structural damage, the other schools sustained only minor damage such as missing shingles, damage to perimeter of fencing.

It is estimated that some $29,000.00 will be required to repair Preston Albury High School. The results of a structural report for Gregory Town Primary will influence the decision with respect to options for replacement of the school’s roof.

An engineer and Architect from Ministry of Works will be in Eleuthera this week to provide the technical advice for the way forward with Gregory Town Primary School. All other small contracts are being managed by the Island Administrator and District Superintendent.

LONG ISLAND, ANDROS, GRAND BAHAMA AND ABACO

Government-operated schools on Long Island, Andros, and Grand Bahama suffered no damages as a result of the storm. Further, Treasure Cay Primary was the only school in Abaco to sustain damage. This school was flooded; water damaged the partitions, floors, electrical outlets and furniture. Repairs are estimated to cost some $50,000.00. The electrical repairs have been completed and other repairs are now in progress.

NEW PROVIDENCE

Leaking roofs resulting in water damage to the interior of some school buildings, fallen trees and clearing of debris comprised the extent of the damage to Government-operated schools in New Providence.

These schools and their environments have been restored as contractors, nearing completion of their scopes of work for the Summer School Repair Programme were able to address all required minor repairs.

Similarly, the companies which were contracted to clean various school yards for the year, assisted with the cleanup in the aftermath of the Hurricane.

Total costs for New Providence works totalled some $210,990.00.

I wish to acknowledge the role of Family Island Administrators, District Superintendents, Principals and Staff and Physical Plant Managers and Staff of the Ministry of Education for their commendable action to ensure that schools were made habitable for the students to begin the new school year despite the visit of Irene to our country.

Monies for these repairs are being sourced from the Ministry of Education’s Capital Budget. As a result a number new school construction projects will delayed until the next fiscal period.

On another note, Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to advise that repairs and alterations to the Naomi Blatch Primary School permitting its conversion into a preschool have been completed. We expect that some 60 four year-olds from the Grants Town area will enter the preschool beginning next Monday, 10th October,2011.

This latest stand alone preschool will provide for an even greater number of students to enter primary school ready to learn with a foundation sure to assist with their future academic success.

Mr. Speaker:

The Ministry of Public Works mobilised 6 damage assessment teams as early as noon on Friday August 26th, and charged them with surveying damage on New Providence Island by sector: NE, SE, NW, N Central and South Central.

Teams were headed by Structural Engineers, Architects, Building Surveyors and M&E Engineers and made initial report back on building damage to both government and private buildings by close of Friday 26th August.

An initial assessment team from NEMA/ Ministry of Public Works & Transport flew out to survey damages in the Family Islands at 1pm on Friday 26th August. A Ministerial team accompanies by a team of approx 40 senior government officials including social workers, engineers and administrative staff, flew on Saturday morning. Overall assessment of priority areas were conducted of the situation on the ground in Cat Island, Acklins, Inagua, Long Island, Exuma and Eleuthera.

During week commencing 29th August NEMA/ Ministry of Public Works & Transport Family Island Damage Assessment Teams began more detailed assessments around the country. Because of the widespread and extensive damage at many remote locations (e.g. Cays off Abaco) these teams were still being mobilized to some locations for further detailed assessments at end of September.

These Reports indicated that the northern and eastern islands were worst hit per capita with widespread damages to government buildings, roads and seawalls.

Based on preliminary findings, damages to government facilities and infrastructure in New Providence and the Family Islands are estimated at approximately $12 million dollars with summary as below:

Abaco $ 1,500,000

Acklins $ 270,000

Cat Island $ 2,000,000

Crooked Island $ 560,000

Eleuthera $ 500,000

Exuma $ 1,500,000

Long Cay $ 40,000

Grand Bahama $ 125,000

Long Island $ 375,000

New Providence $ 1,800,000

San Salvador $ 286,000

Rum Cay $ 1,000,000 (including $0.8m for new clinic, replacement of which is not entirely attributable to Hurricane Irene)

Contingency

Funding for Unspecified Hurricane related Repair and Cleanup Projects $ 1,000,000

Total $11,956,000

It should be noted that:

i. the total estimated cost of repairs of approximately $12 million includes $800 thousand for a new clinic on Rum Cay, which whilst not hurricane damage, was identified as an essential replacement during a damage assessment visit.

The estimated cost of repairs of approximately $12 million includes assessed hurricane damage, however in many instances the infrastructure assets affected had pre-existing damages or incipient conditions of dilapidation which mean it would not be economic to repair only for the hurricane damage , but must sensibly address the pre-existing damage or state of dilapidation, so as to not “ repair old wine skins, with new “.

For example it does not make sense to replace decking on a dock when the underlying piling and cross beams are in a serious state of disrepair but were not in fact destroyed by Hurricane Irene.

ii. Many individual project estimates contributing to the above total cost figure are “ball park figures” based on crude estimate of scope derived from verbal description given by damage assessment teams. These figures need audit and in many cases full measure scope and price before estimates can be taken as an "Employer's Estimate" iii.

Seventy two percent of the cost of the repairs is attributed to buildings the reminder is attributed to roads and sea walls and docks.

iv. These preliminary estimates are being refined and scopes of work prepared so that the works may be priced by contractors.

Progress to date

Including the initial clean up and clearance of trees and debris, less than five percent of the repairs have commenced to-date. These are projects which were already in-hand but have scope increased due to Hurricane Irene:

Roof repairs Ansbacher Building $250K (approx)

Roof repairs Elizabeth Estates Children’s Home $ 72K (approx)

Street Clearing, various contractors $ 150K (approx)

Projects commenced to date are funded from the existing budget with the view to reimbursement when the dedicated funds are identified.

However reports are still coming in and as mentioned above, preliminary assessments of costs on some islands have to be reassessed due to absence of proper audit of those costs by appropriately experienced officers, or inadequate time to make full assessments.

Progress on repairs/remedials/ re-construction

Ministry of Public Works & Transport workforce and contractors on New Providence and Local Government resources in the Family Islands have addressed all urgent items of clearances immediately, with the view to being reimbursed from the special (Hurricane) fund at a later date.

Budget Estimates for all other items are still being finalized for formal presentation to Ministry of Finance, when Ministry of Public Works & Transport staff are still heavily engaged in assessments but continuing technical staff shortages are hindering progress.

CDB, IDB and EXIM have offered grants of around $200k each and CDB has offered a soft loan to help finance these emergency repairs and more permanent replacements respectively.

In some isolated locations such as Rum Cay, due to absence of local contractors to do the work it is proposed to execute emergency repairs to such infrastructure items as the dock and bridge by award of negotiated contract

Proposed way forward

Ministry of Public Works & Transport is still collecting data on repairs needed to some of the more remote/inaccessible locations of Family Island and also having to go back and audit refine initial estimates of cost, which may not have been made by officers appropriately experienced to make detailed assessment , or with enough time available to make a proper assessment. The summary spreadsheet “Damage to Public Facilities” is therefore still under refinement.

Given the scale and scope of the repairs needed, it is proposed that once officers are satisfied with the estimates presented, then they will be formally forwarded to Ministry of Finance for their onward transmission to CDB for loan application. It is anticipated that this should be able to be achieved by mid November, with application to CDB in December, and hopefully first release of funding from CDB early in the New Year.

In the meantime, once armed with robust estimates and a priority listing of projects and alternative means of funding and procurement of those emergency projects could be considered.

Mr. Speaker:

I give every assurance to Honourable members that all residents of impacted communities that NEMA will continue to lead and monitor the recovery process. As matters develop I will provide further information to Parliament if deemed appropriate and necessary.

5th October, 2011

News date : 10/05/2011    Category : About Bahamians, Press Releases, Weather

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