By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
A Grand Bahama environment activist is accusing the Minnis administration of being "hypocritical" when it says "public safety and national security is a high priority" of the government.
In response to a national address by Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis, Shuffel Hepburn, of the Grand Bahama Environmental Association (GBEA), said no mention was made of the safety and security of the people, the environment and the country's natural resources.
He said Dr Minnis' remarks are contradictory to what the residents living around the industrial plants in Grand Bahama have seen from the new government.
While he praised the government for the positive strides made since the 2017 general election, he stressed there have been no satisfactory signs from the present government that the voices of those affected by industrial pollution matter.
"The PM claimed to be listening to a lot of voices of the Bahamian people... yet, the PM has not been listening to the voices of the people in Hawksbill, Hunters, Lewis Yard, Pinder's Point, nor Mac Town," Mr Hepburn said.
"These voices have been crying for years about the pollution of the surrounding industrial plants. Residents in these areas say that there have been no satisfactory signs from the present government that their voices are truly relevant."
He said Minister of State for Grand Bahama Senator Kwasi Thompson had indicated late last year that Minister for the Environment Romauld Ferreira would meet with the residents in a town hall setting early in January.
The environmental activist said that promise has not been kept and there has been no communication from the minister nor anyone else regarding it.
"We are now in the month of February... there has been no town hall meeting and the residents are left hanging once again.
"This is not a sign that these residents and their cries are relevant to 'the people's time,'" he said, referencing the Free National Movement's election slogan.
He also said residents wrote to Dr Minnis some months ago and have not received an acknowledgement of the letter that was sent via courier service to his office in New Providence.
"This is the exact same treatment the residents received from former Prime Minister Perry Gladstone Christie," he claimed.
Mr Hepburn also called on the prime minister to elaborate on his reference to "new investment in East Grand Bahama at the oil refinery that will help to provide jobs."
He said that information about the new investment was very sketchy without any details.
"There is no oil refinery in the East End presently and I wondered whether this was a slip by the PM, or whether the present government is truly planning a refinery for the eastern end of the island?
"If this is the government's plan it will not sit well with GB if there is no attempt to right the wrongs of the existing industrial plants," he warned.
In response to the prime minister's remarks about transparency and accountability, Mr Hepburn stated that he has not experienced this "accountability and transparency" in his dealings with the present government.
The GBEA has been calling for the relocation of the affected residents in the areas that have been plagued by alleged ongoing industrial pollution for the past 40 years.