It ought to be the crown jewel of The Bahamas. Instead, it’s not fit enough for its new occupant to live in.
We’re talking of course about Government House, which should be the finest of surroundings to welcome dignitaries in the appropriate setting – and live up to being the biggest moment of some people’s lives in being recognised by the incumbent Governor General.
It should be. But it’s not.
The now former occupant, Dame Marguerite Pindling, lived in her own home outside of working hours, and the new person in the job, CA Smith, will live in a home rented for him by the government at a cost of $9,000 a month.
Opposition leader Philip ‘Brave’ Davis was quickly on the attack of course. The government didn’t pay rent under his watch, he said – well, they didn’t need to as Dame Marguerite has a substantial home in New Providence, unlike the new man.
“Government House should (have) been repaired a long time ago and I’m advised that the roof is still leaking (and was leaking) for the last four years or more,” he roared. Now, let us think, who was Minister of Works four years ago?
Clearly the words of Dame Marguerite at her farewell speech calling for unity didn’t sink in very far.
We also think he misses the point when he complains about the rent – now obviously it is something that would be better done without if Government House was up to scratch, but the fact that the premier venue in the land is looking a bit ramshackle is the real point.
CA Smith can smile all he wants, his smile won’t cover up the peeling paint, or that leaky roof, or the stained carpets or balconies that could do with a little refurbishment.
Should the refurbishment have been done earlier? Yes. Should we applaud that it is happening at last? Yes.
That $9,000 a month is a relatively small budget item for the accommodation of the holder of the top office in the land – all the same, we’ll be glad when it’s no longer needed, and The Bahamas can be proud of Government House once more.
Jeff Lloyd is living in hope
Speaking of repairs – we think Jeff Lloyd might be somewhat optimistic in thinking school repairs might all be completed within the tight six-week window of summer.
Already, he’s talking about people working “ 12, 14, 15-hour days and seven days a week, that’s just the nature of it because look here today is July 2”.
Not only does that not sound safe for workers but we wish him luck with that in a summer already shaping up to be one of power outages and load shedding. Why, just today there was another island-wide power outage – workers aren’t going to be using power tools in that.
For some schools there is a reasonable excuse for time being so tight – no one could have foreseen the fire at Huntley G Christie school in Nichols Town, Andros, last month, and the same holds true of the fire-damaged area in Anatol Rodgers Senior High School.
But if your plan starts with working 15-hour days seven days a week, then your plan is designed to fail.
Every year, the schools seem to face such a rush to be ready for the first day of term – is there really no smoother way to do this?
Mr Lloyd was also optimistic about reaching a deal with teachers over a new industrial agreement.
But as union leader Belinda Wilson said before she went on holiday that she would advocate for a 20 percent pay increase, we suspect his hopes of satisfying teacher demands are a long way short of reality yet.
Good luck, Mr Lloyd, on both counts.