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Rebuilding will cost ‘tens of millions’

Prime Minister Perry Christie addresses the media in Stella Maris. Photo: Peter Ramsay

Prime Minister Perry Christie addresses the media in Stella Maris. Photo: Peter Ramsay

By SANCHESKA BROWN

Tribune Staff Reporter

sbrown@tribunemedia.net

IT WILL cost “tens of millions of dollars” to restore and rebuild the infrastructure on the southern and central Bahamas islands that were completely devastated by the passage of Hurricane Joaquin, according to Prime Minister Perry Christie.

At a press conference at the Exuma Airport on Saturday, after conducting an aerial assessment of the affected islands, Prime Minister Perry Christie told reporters that the category four hurricane severely damaged and in some cases completely destroyed power lines and telephone antennas in San Salvador, Crooked Island, Long Island and Acklins.

These areas have been without electricity and telephone service since Thursday.

Officials from the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) and the Bahamas Telecommunications Corporation (BTC) said it could take up to ten days to restore power and communications on the affected islands.

The prime minister said the infrastructural repairs will be “extraordinary” in terms of cost for the central government.

“The devastation is not just to people’s private property and homes, where we will have to render assistance, but the infrastructure has been severely damaged and that goes into the tens of millions of dollars when you add up the total and that is why assessment is important,” Mr Christie said.

BTC CEO Leon Williams said his staff is working 24/7 to get the communication systems up, however because of power outages and widespread flooding it is difficult to begin the restoration process in Acklins, Crooked Island, Long Island and San Salvador.

“We have had a number of towers lost in Long Island, three towers to be exact. We lost a tower in Crooked Island and our challenge right now is to get to Long Island, once we get Long Island up we can get the other islands up,” he said on Saturday. “We still have no communications with Crooked Island and as the prime minister indicated, we are pressed to get there. We lost a roof for the generators in Crooked Island and a roof for the building in Crooked Island and three antennas. We have got a temporary tower to carry into Long Island to restore the cellular network as soon as we get power. The difficulty in Long Island and some of the other islands is staff cannot get to the other settlements because of the water, so they can only tell you what is damaged within their settlements, that is the challenge we have in Long Island and in Crooked Island.”

Carlo Alloni, group chief technology and information officer and executive vice president at Cable & Wireless Communications, said a team from CWC (BTC’s parent company) in Jamaica and Panama are ready to fly in and assist the restoration effort.

He said once teams are on the ground, telephone restoration could take anywhere between one to ten days in affected areas.

Many islands affected by the storm have been without electricity for at least five days.

BEC General Manager Kevin Basden said the plan is to “isolate the priority circuits” to get as many customers on as possible and to restore communication.

“As it relates to Long Island, you would have heard that the north and south are physically separated because of the water and that presents a challenge not only from communication but from staff on one side being able to talk to the other side on an ongoing basis, so we will continue with our assessments. Our staff on the ground has already begun their isolation in terms of the north side, the idea is to get as many customers on as we can as quickly as we can by isolating the circuits and getting the priority circuits on and that is our approach,” Mr Basden said.

“We have had a number of islands that have been damaged by the hurricane at the same time, but we will have our resources designed so we can work multiple islands at the same time and in that regard we will also be having assistance from our international partners, in particular Association of Electrical Utilities, they are on standby waiting to send in personnel. Obviously with the number of poles that are down in some situations, we would also have to utilise barges to get in heavy equipment as well as materials to assist with that, but we give our assurance that we will take every step to ensure customers are on as soon as possible.”

A statement released by Mr Williams last night said services were online in southern Abaco, Eleuthera, Andros, the Berry Islands and Bimini. BTC teams were still working to restore service to Devil’s Point, Cat Island, along with Acklins, Crooked Island, Long Island, Inagua and Mayaguana.

Last night, BEC said it was still working to restore full supply to areas of Inagua and Cat Island, however, power had been returned to most parts of those islands. Crews were still working to restore power on San Salvador, Mayaguana, Rum Cay, Crooked Island and Acklins. These islands - aside from Crooked Island which only had standing water that restricted access - received significant damage to BEC’s networks. Power has been restored to parts of north Long Island; however, the southern end was still without electricity.

Comments

ohdrap4 8 years, 4 months ago

if it costs 500,000 to fix one school room, sure.

but instead of replacing they will upgrade ten times fold to justtify spending more money.

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ThisIsOurs 8 years, 4 months ago

PAC PLEASE keep a close watch on these people BEFORE they spend the money, they have proven to be very incompetent and they simply love these teachable moments. For every contract they hand out, get an independent qualified contractor to assess the reconstruction costs. They CANNOT be trusted.

(Btw You shouldn't experience any teachable moment for the same lesson you've gone through 30 times before, that's not a teachable moment that cause for dismissal due to incompetence)

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realfreethinker 8 years, 4 months ago

Please do not borrow any more money. If the VAT dont cover it have you and some of the boys bring some of our money out of those swiss bank accounts

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Hogfish 8 years, 4 months ago

Dear Perry,

Please for the sake of what's holy and our children and brothers and sisters, keep politics out of this. ! Your pockets are full enough.

No more contracts to your friends and cronies like you did for the landscapping fella at bahamar.

People's lives are now at stake. !

Be fair and honest for once in your life and get it done QUICK ! I een care if you TIRED and provide A FULL ACCOUNT !

PLEASE!

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Cobalt 8 years, 4 months ago

Lol. Yall people are funny.

You really think Perry Christie and the PLP give a damn about these people??? Perry and his cronies are hard at work seeking ways in which they can exploit this disaster to fit their own personal gain. And with only two years left for them to grab whatever they can, this hurricane relief has come at the right time. You would be a fool to think that with money being passed around, Perry and his boys won't use this as an opportunity to grease their pockets.

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MajorTom 8 years, 4 months ago

Much of the supplies to rebuild will come from beyond these shores. I would like to hear from government that all levies are to be suspended on these supplies. No duty. No VAT.

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jackflash 8 years, 4 months ago

That has been done from Yesterday.

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observer2 8 years, 4 months ago

Remember Bamsi, $500,000 school room, BEC bribe to purchase inferior generators causing untold cost to the public, VAT implementation with no spending accountability, gas prices remain stubbornly high despite going down to $2 per gallon in the US, BEC bills not going down with lower diesel costs, building prices up by over 50% duty to VAT layering, government slow in paying out VAT reimbursements, numbers shops opened without any licenses and against the people's will, Baha Mar staff payments of $5m per month, now hundreds of millions need to be spent to rebuild the southern bahamas. S&P will downgrade us to junk and we will need to devalue the currency.

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geetee 8 years, 4 months ago

Please can someone report from Cat Island? What are the conditions there?

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DDK 8 years, 4 months ago

The P.M. is REALLY worried abut money, isn't he? He is on and on about how much everything will cost!!!!!

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observer2 8 years, 4 months ago

The reason the administration is worried about money is because they do not have a vision on how to resolve the problems neither do they have any idea exactly what the problem is. They talk amongst themselves including the opposition which seem just as clueless.

Problem. These devastating floods/hurricanes are unpredictable 100 year events which can occur in 2020 even if we just experienced one this year.

Problem. No vision. Same lousy solutions decade in and decade out. The southern islands will be rebuilt one by one despite global warming which has most of the Bahamian chain underwater in 200 years.

Problem. BEC will rebuild the same lousy above ground electricity distribution poles which can be blown down next year. Instead of putting the electricity underground due to cost. Watch the contractors and conflicts of interest very carefully.

Problem. We can no longer afford to have numerous settlements scattered all over the south and expect for all of them to have electricity, water, cable, proper transportation (air and sea), good education, healthcare and an "anchor project" each all courtesy of the government - we are selling pie in the sky. The cost of operating the southern islands is compounded by greed, theft, corruption, nepotism and a geriatric administration.

Solution. Consolidate the majority of the southern population on an island which is well above sea level. Build a new city of the south. Stop taking all of their VAT, duty, license fees etc. to Nassau to be wasted. Let the funds from the south be spent in the south. Let the south young people determine its own future.

Unfortunately none of this will occur. The educational system in these islands is so poor most people may not actually comprehend their true predicament.

The relief effort is excellent but if we don't learn anything from the disaster and stop rebuilding out of wood, in low lying areas, in very small settlements, with exposed electrical networks, diesel BEC generators and centralised government then we should expect the same results.

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lookingon 8 years, 4 months ago

Wake Up Bahamians!! It is now obvious that our central government cannot meet the needs of persons living on 20 plus islands, rocks and cays......we must rebuild but not using the same old model.....We must consolidate the population of The Bahamas on Eleuthera, Andros and Grand Bahama. No more persons in Nassau. We are too jammed up already. Use all of the international help to assist persons who have been displaced by the storm....Let's start with Andros first because it is closer to New Providence. This West Minister system that the British left us must be rethought.....It has failed us Bahamians miserably.....we are dependent, powerless and everything is spiraling out of control.....please as we move forward don't let us go backwards to that which has put us in this mess today. My people we need to wake up out of slumber....without a vision the people will perish.

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lookingon 8 years, 4 months ago

In addition to what was said above, can we start to implement local government now....How long will family island residents have to wait for mommy and daddy to come down from Nassau to their various settlements to look after them! Come on now Bahamas we can do better than this after almost 40 years of independence and 50 years of Majority Rule. In the 50s and 60s our political leaders were able to take us to new heights...Now a days new heights means new hotels!!

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The_Oracle 8 years, 4 months ago

I disagree Looking on, it is our political class that has failed the Westminster system. Consider the generous outpouring of support from the Bahamian people, which has cost the government nothing thus far. Infrastructure will cost the government initially, but it is the same generous population that will foot that cost also, with 60% added cost for waste, crony contracts, poor workmanship and political pilfering. Meanwhile, remind me again why Nassau is the hub? Is it because they fear loss of control in Nassau?

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Sunshine12 8 years, 4 months ago

It would be great if the Numbers Guys, China ands VAT would help fund the rebuilding by TRUSTED, HONEST contractors.

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lookingon 8 years, 4 months ago

The_Oracle ...I agree our political class has failed the Westminster system but this Westminster system is not the right model for our country and that is why most of our Family Islands are getting left behind.... in another vein this central government that for the most part has representatives who don't live in their constituencies can no longer meet the needs of this archipelago. Unless we empower the local people and make them take responsibility for governing themselves we will not be marching forwards, upwards and onwards. ... In the 60s and 70s we made major steps forwards with Majority Rule and Independence. Can we say that after 50 years have we taken the country to another level? Look around for your answer.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 8 years, 4 months ago

VIEW AND WEEP BAHAMIANS. THEN LOOK AT THE CBS NEWS SPECIAL ON THE FALL OF THE BAHAMAS AND RISE OF CUBA.

http://america.aljazeera.com/articles...">http://america.aljazeera.com/articles...

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SP 8 years, 4 months ago

Our country is a mess because both PLP and FNM have taken turns pilfering the treasury!

Mr. Fred Ramsey was just the go between with a $600,000.00 bribe earmarked for Cabinet.

The entire and or partial electrical infrastructure on the islands will have to be replaced such as the power station in Crooked Island and the power station building in San Salvador that sustained significant damage also provides another ultimate opportunity for government officials to steal from the public treasury.

How are we the people going to put a stop to the established high level of graft in BEC, government on a whole, and protect ourselves from these corrupt politicians?

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