By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
ALTHOUGH the hurricane season is fast approaching, it is not clear whether the government will enact a mandatory evacuation law anytime soon.
Such a law could force some Bahamians from their homes rather than have them endure dangerous hurricanes in vulnerable areas of the country.
It has been nearly nine months since Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis pledged to table such a bill in Parliament.
Former Prime Minister Perry Christie talked about such a bill following Hurricane Matthew in 2016. Dr Minnis, after Hurricane Irma last year, proposed enacting a mandatory evacuation law to counter the behaviour of many Bahamians who fail to heed evacuation pleas.
“I think it is essential that we have a mandatory evacuation law,” Dr Minnis said last year.
“Not only that, we must have a manual for evacuations so that we will have guidelines.
“A storm may be a Category 1 or 2, and that may not be a requirement for evacuation. But we would look and a requirement may be a Category 4 or 5. Those are the things that have to be discussed.”
On September 10, 2017, Dr Minnis said such a bill would be tabled when the House of Assembly resumed after its summer recess.
On return to Parliament several days later, he said the government would instead circulate the bill to the public and the opposition before bringing it to the House of Assembly. It does not appear that such a bill has been released to the public for consultation and it is not clear that it has been shared with the opposition.
Asked about the matter yesterday, Press Secretary Anthony Newbold said: “Not sure (if it will be passed before the start of the hurricane season). Haven’t talked about that; we talked about some other things to do with the hurricane but haven’t talked about that.
“It could very well come up; the House meets tomorrow (Wednesday), it could be a part of it; or it could be a part of the agenda next month May, but we’ll have to see what they decide to do with that.”