EXUMA & Ragged Island MP Chester Cooper.
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
PROGRESSIVE Liberal Party Deputy Leader Chester Cooper attacked the Minnis administration’s response to Hurricane Dorian yesterday at a constituency branch meeting.
“The government knew Hurricane Dorian was coming,” he said. “We all watched it form and move. The government was briefed on it. The opposition demanded to be briefed on it. The world saw it coming. Where was the mandatory evacuation legislation that was promised in 2016 and 2017 in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in 2017 when you were prime minister?”
Mr Cooper continued: “Where were the trucks, chain saws, garbage bins, dumpsters all lined up to deal with the aftermath appropriately? In fact, where were the RBDF ships? Where was the enforcement of the building codes as was promised when he was prime minister in the aftermath of Irma in 2017?”
Mr Cooper’s comments were partly a reference to Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis’ criticism of the Christie administration’s response to Hurricane Matthew in 2016.
Dr Minnis had said: “You knew the storm was coming, you knew the strength of the storm, you knew the potential damage, you knew what was going to happen to the south, and therefore they should have already had trucks, chain saws, garbage bins, dumpsters all lined up to deal with the aftermath appropriately.”
Mr Cooper also criticised the government’s slowness to restore government services to Ragged Island. Ragged Island residents fear that with focus on restoring Abaco and Grand Bahama, their need for basic services like healthcare and public education will be pushed aside.
“For over two years I have been agitating for this government to address the concerns of Ragged Island, and to no avail,” Mr Cooper, who represents the island, said. “We have gotten minimal assistance and more big promises that have yet to come to fruition. We are still awaiting government buildings and proper infrastructure. We are still awaiting the promised solarisation of the island. They say that will happen before the end of the year, but they didn’t say which year. Two years later and the government continues to fail Ragged Island. Still no school, no police, no nurse and no sense of normalcy. If it takes two plus years for the government to even approve a plan for an island with a population of less than a hundred, then I think it is fair to be concerned about how long it will take for the plan of an island with over 20,000 people to emerge.”