By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Deputy Chief Reporter
PRIME Minister Dr Hubert Minnis' response to the Exuma boating tragedy shows a lack of appreciation for the seriousness of the situation, Progressive Liberal Party Leader Philip "Brave" Davis said yesterday.
On Monday when he was asked to speak about the horrific event, Dr Minnis offered brief remarks expressing condolences to the families of those affected by Saturday's accident. However, he told reporters he did not want to say anything on the matter because it was an active investigation.
He had the same response when he was asked if he could say whether the incident would bring more stringent regulations for the tour industry.
This was not sufficient, Mr Davis suggested.
Mr Davis said the prime minister's response was typical for him, adding he had a similar attitude when it came to the traffic accident which claimed the life of a young woman - Garvanisha Carey - on Munnings Road last month.
Mr Davis said the victim's mother indicated to him that she would appreciate a call from the prime minister. Mr Davis said he made several attempts to reach out to the prime minister, including sending an email to him, but still the mother had not been contacted by Dr Minnis.
"We appreciate that the investigation is ongoing," Mr Davis said yesterday. "I don't think he was called upon to speak of the events surrounding the circumstances that may have led to the tragic event. There are other issues that evolved from the event having happened and that is the seriousness of it.
"He could have responded to that. He could have spoken to those persons who are injured. He could have spoken to the family of the person who would have lost their life. He could have spoken to the community because the likelihood of reputational concerns that could have resulted from it. Those are the things that he should have been speaking to.
"For example, if he said it is under investigation perhaps he could have given some outline of what the government has done to ensure that the investigation will be effective, that the investigation will be transparent, that the investigation will result in some accountability. Those are some of the things."
He continued: "For example I would have thought that he would have announced a team dealing with this matter.
"I would have thought that he would have announced some committee or some commission that could assist in dealing with the possible fall out internationally to deal with the issues that might arise from the reputational point of view and deal with the actual investigation. It has to be properly managed and I don't know that he understands the whole gambit of what has happened."
However, PLP Deputy Leader Chester Cooper seemed to have a different take.
He said there needed to be a consolidation of the message to ensure the incident and what is being done is conveyed the proper way internationally.
Apart from this, Mr Cooper said he was confident Exuma would rise again, adding Exumians were generally pleased with the way in which resources came together in response to the accident.
He said: "I believe this tragedy is gone now to a new phase. We are generally concerned that the accident is properly conveyed in the international community.
"I've spoken with the minister of health and the minister of tourism and the director general of tourism. I believe it is important that we all speak with one voice with respect to how we manage the international aspect of the tragedy itself.
"Exuma continues to be a resilient tourist destination. Anyone who has travelled to Exuma understands the sheer beauty of the Exuma cays, the resilience of the tourism product and in fact we have 365 islands of the Bahamas. I would like to say 365 of the more beautiful islands reside in the Exuma cays. So I believe we will rise again.
"This will be a temporary moment of reflection to improve our game recognising that accidents do happen and we will discover that as tourism rebounded after even more significant events like the 9/11 incident, people will travel again people will recognise that we are upping our game in Exuma."
Four C's Adventures has been issued a cease and desist order to suspend operations pending an investigation into the accident that killed one American woman, caused another to lose both of her legs and injured nine other people on Saturday, according to former Transport and Local Government Minister Frankie Campbell.
Four C's Adventures received the order on Sunday evening despite opening for business that day. The order was issued by the acting controller of the Port Department in conjunction with the Exuma Port Authority Board.