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Ragged Island Rebuild Now Up To $12m

Minister of Public Works Desmond Bannister.

Minister of Public Works Desmond Bannister.

By KHRISNA RUSSELL

Deputy Chief Reporter

krussell@tribunemedia.net

WORKS Minister Desmond Bannister defended the government’s decision to spend millions of dollars on infrastructure at Ragged Island, telling Parliament it came down to a matter of “life and death” for residents.

The minister revealed yesterday new government buildings on the island, which was decimated by Hurricane Irma in 2017, will cost $12m. This contrasts with Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis’ estimate of $8m during his third national address in May.

According to Mr Bannister, the plan for Ragged Island includes construction of a new school and teachers’ complex at $4m; a new clinic for $3m; administrator’s office, post office and court room for $2m and $3m to build a new police station and officer accommodations.

However, he told the House of Assembly the work would have to be completed in stages and cannot be done within a single budget year, adding the school is to be started first in October or November.

“Mr Speaker, I know that this won’t take any pressure off my colleagues, but I will give you an example of the types of challenges that we face every day at the Ministry of Public Works, and I have to make the hard calls,” the minister said yesterday during his contribution to the 2019/2020 budget debate.

“When I visited Crooked Island with my friend from MICAL, she showed me a road that needed paving. Only six people live on that road, and paving it would probably cost $100,000. On an economic analysis it may make no sense, but to those six people getting that road paved would change their lives. To them it is the most important thing in the world, and we have similar situations in every island in this country.

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Conditions on Ragged Island in 2017 after Hurricane Irma.

“Likewise building a school in Ragged Island, which has to double as a hurricane shelter. The ordinary Nassauvian may question spending $4m to build a school in Ragged Island for six children that doubles as a hurricane shelter for a community of 60, but to the residents it’s life and death.”

He also said: “The preliminary cost estimates have taken into consideration the inflationary effect on construction from the cost of transportation to the Family Islands. It is clear that we will have to reconstruct Ragged Island’s government facilities in stages over a number of years, as logistically the engineering and architectural process together with the funding of approximately $12 million cannot be accomplished in a single budget year.”

Regarding Ragged Island’s individual government structures, Mr Bannister said: “The school has been designed for 60 persons as it also will serve as a hurricane shelter. The Ministry of Education has only six students on record. The project design has been completed and currently the tender documents are being finalised. It is planned to tender the project by next month with an expected start date in October/November 2019.”

The clinic’s architectural design is currently under review by the Ministry of Health and designs are ongoing for the other facilities.

Additionally, he said a request for proposals (RFP) has been issued for solar energy provision on the small island, with bids now under evaluation.

Before the end of the year, Bahamas Power and Light intends to issue RFPs for a number of other islands, he said.

Comments

Well_mudda_take_sic 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Bannister has turned out to be one of the biggest buffoons in the Minnis-led FNM cabinet. There are probably less than 12 Bahamians who wish to remain in Ragged Island, one of our southern most islands with a very small indigenous population. It would have been much less costly in the long run to relocate all known existing Ragged Island residents to one or more safer islands in the northern Bahamas.

The concerns expressed by Minnis about the threatening impact of climate change on our country does not square with the government's foolish policy of financially helping a relatively few Bahamians to continue residing on an unsafe island. It's ironic to hear Bannister say (with tongue in cheek) that millions of dollars must be poured into the re-development of hurricane ravaged Ragged Island because of the "life and death" situation of its residents. That's poppy-cock!

No one can dispute that Ragged Island is particulary vulnerable to an ever increasing number of devastigating category 3+ hurricanes because of its isolated and unprotected southern location. A sensible policy of a caring government would have been to declare Ragged Island unsafe for inhabitants and then financially help relocate the indigenous residents to other safer islands in the northern Bahamas.

Even in the aftermath of the last round of serious hurricanes, illegal Haitians and Dominicans showed no interest whatsoever in flocking to Ragged Island to 'set up shop'. They know only too well that Ragged Island is dangerously isolated and unprotected, and therefore unsafe for inhabitants. Anyone who resides there, should do so entirely at their own risk with a clear understanding that there will not be any government support whatsoever.

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thinkingbigin19 5 months, 3 weeks ago

A ridiculous expense at this time for our country given the size of Ragged Island alone - the buildings must be made of marble and granite at that cost!

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birdiestrachan 5 months, 3 weeks ago

If the people of Ragged Island give up their Land .Others will take their land. Who knows what the future holds.

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birdiestrachan 5 months, 3 weeks ago

It took The FNM Government two years to conclude a matter of life and death, How often has Ragged Island had hurricanes.?? and should it be the policy that ever time a hurricane hits a Island with a small population, They should just leave. ?

NO. Truth is I would welcome a piece of property by the sea, over looking the deep blue ocean. And so would millions besides me. think about generation of Bahamians to come.j

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ThisIsOurs 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Hmmm...this the same thing that happened with those generators that Osborne and Nick Dean requested justification for. The bill suddenly jumps by 4 million dollars.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 5 months, 3 weeks ago

It's called PADDING! A polite term for Bahamian taxpayers getting the royal shafting.

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sheeprunner12 5 months, 3 weeks ago

How much has the Ragged Islanders (families) invested in their home island since 2016??? They made such a big hullabaloo when Minnis declared the island "uninhabitable"

This cost is exorbitant ......... given that the pre-2016 population was about 50 persons. Will this entice at least 300 new residents to come back to their home island and rebuild their generational homes & businesses??????

This observation can be made for ALL of the sparsely populated islands south of Exuma.

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