Some of the disrepair in the embassy in Washington DC.
By TANYA SMITH-CARTWRIGHT
BAHAMIANS living in the Washington DC area are upset about the dilapidated state of the Bahamas Embassy, deeming it unfit for people amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
There are complaints of mould infestation, broken crown mouldings, exposed pipes and leaking ceilings.
Tribune sources in Washington say that for years the embassy has been in this state of disrepair and has escaped the “to do” list of successive governments.
“As Bahamians living in this area we are totally embarrassed that our embassy looks the way it does,” said one source.
“We are tired of complaining about how our embassy is not fit for humans to be (in). I am surprised that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has not sought to fix this building, after all it is owned by the government of the Bahamas. International guests cannot be greeted there because of the state of the building. It is deplorable.”
The Bahamas Embassy is situated at 2220 Massachusetts Avenue, North West, Washington, DC, an area known as Embassy Row. The property was purchased in 1974. It is approximately 100 years old and was originally a private home.
When contacted recently, Minister of Foreign Affairs Darren Henfield brushed off the concerns, and told this newspaper to contact the Bahamian ambassador in DC.
“In our current environment right now, where we are managing crisis after crisis in this pandemic the world over, do you think this is the time to be entertaining something about the disrepair of an embassy?” Mr Henfield asked. “It is amazing to me that if Ambassador Collie, who works there, is aware of the existence of mould in his mission that he would not seek to remediate it. I know him better than that. There are several companies in the US that can do it. We had it done right here at (Ministry of) Foreign Affairs and in other places where we thought there was an existence of mould and we had it scrubbed.”
When contacted, Ambassador Sidney Collie agreed with complaints that mould in the building could compromise immune systems. He said the government has approved spending to get rid of the mould.
He said during a recent interview: “I agree that due to the mould in the building our respiratory systems are now compromised. The basement of this building is infested with mould and so is the conference room. We no longer go in those areas of the building. No one can be in those areas. The basement was our eating area. We can’t go there. The mould is very pervasive.
“The government has approved the $85,000 to have the remediation done. It has been wired to the embassy’s account so we are just waiting to move on it after this virus goes away.”
Ambassador Collie admitted the building has fallen into a state of disrepair. He said it is in an unsatisfactory state and no government has done anything to repair it.