“A promise is a comfort to a fool,” DNA leader Branville McCartney fired back yesterday at Environment Minister Kenred Dorsett over the issue of toxic fumes from the burning public dump.
Mr McCartney said his party could not accept the government’s response to the environmental concerns sparked by the “toxic fumes” from the city dump last week.
“While the government lags,” said Mr McCartney, “residents of the affected area, including young children, continue to be subjected to the toxic fumes at that site and in the meantime the government’s only response to those families is ‘visit the nearest clinic’. This is unacceptable!”
“What we require,” he added, “is a government that reports to the people! What we demand is full transparency! What we demand is action!”
Two schools were forced to close their doors last week as smoke from the New Providence landfill fire blanketed surrounding areas.
Officials from both Aquinas College at Gladstone Road and the Meridian School at Unicorn Village, just off JFK Drive, confirmed on Friday that the air quality was too poor to allow students to continue attending classes.
The closure of the two schools follows assurances from Deputy Director at the Department of Environmental Health Services Thomasina Wilson, who said that the fire and thick smoke in several areas was no reason for residents to evacuate their homes.
Ms Wilson said people needed only to keep their windows closed, adding that officials saw no need for tests to be carried out to determine the toxicity of the air.
In a statement last week, Mr Dorsett accused Mr McCartney of not doing sufficient research on the longstanding issue in his rush to purport himself as a “people’s advocate”.
Mr Dorsett said: “I read with interest Mr McCartney’s recent statement to the press on the landfill. It was clearly an attempt to appeal to the Bahamian people and make himself appear some kind of people’s advocate.
“However,” said Mr Dorsett, “his (Mr McCartney’s) assertions that nothing is being done regarding the New Providence Landfill is far from the truth and demonstrates that he did not do his research in his haste to join the conversation on this subject.”
Yesterday, Mr McCartney added that it was convenient for Mr Dorsett to come forward with details on Renew Bahamas only after being prompted to action by the DNA.
Mr McCartney said: “The partnership with Renew Bahamas was struck back in November 2013, and does in fact have the potential to affect some of the needed changes at the local landfill; however by the Minister’s own admission, there has been no actual work undertaken at the dump by this company.
“Without action, all we have are the promises of a minister who also pledged to eradicate all the shanty towns around New Providence; however, new villages continue to pop up across the island.
“Without the publication of a concrete plan of action,” said Mr McCartney, “the DNA cannot and will not simply accept the minister’s promise of action.”