TWO MPs stood up in Parliament yesterday to raise their voices against the current state of affairs in the government.
One, predictably enough, was Frederick McAlpine, who these days always seems like an argument in search of an excuse. In his contribution on the Parliamentary Elections Act, he seemed to talk more about himself than the issue at hand. A banging drum soon becomes background noise, and McAlpine is in danger of becoming just that.
The other MP to speak out was a different case entirely. Rueben Rahming is not one to speak out against his own party often – which lends his words extra weight, not least because he was speaking out on behalf of his constituents, not himself.
Pinewood is a constituency that has long been in need of help. Under the previous PLP administration, plans were suggested to help deal with the flooding that affects the area every time there’s a heavy rainfall – but they did not come to pass. Former MP Khaalis Rolle believed a new drainage system would cost $13m. That was in 2013, seven years ago. What has been done since? Ask the residents of Pinewood, who every time storm clouds roll over get ready to deal with rising water.
In October, Desmond Bannister, the Minister of Works now newly minted as Deputy Prime Minister, said that recent flooding showed new ways of preventing flooding are needed because climate change is rendering traditional mechanisms obsolete. He talked of wells having been deepened – but said climate change meant those wells were filling up anyway.
Mr Rahming is the constituency MP, and this is an issue he’s raised before. Last year, he warned that drains were no fix on their own, and estimated $10m was needed to address the issue. No money was allocated then – and he’s drawing the line now. Why? Because someone needs to. We all know the problems affecting the Pinewood area. Can we really leave people to be flooded in their homes year after year without doing something about it?
Bahamians deserve better from the government that represents them, and Mr Rahming is doing exactly what a constituency representative should do, by standing up for the needs of those he serves.
The elephant in the room of course is climate change. What is bad now will only get worse. Waiting any longer won’t help anyone in Pinewood. Residents there need a solution, and they need it soon. No more kicking the can down the road.
We applaud Mr Rahming – standing up for constituents rather than for oneself is exactly what MPs should be doing.
When it comes to the latest news on COVID-19, it is sometimes hard to work out where we actually are given the mixed messaging. Let us take today’s stories, for example. On one hand, you have Leslie Miller talking about not knowing if Mario’s Bowling will survive after not being allowed to open up yet, and the Fusion cinema saying it’s running out of cash reserves to keep going. On the other, you have Education Minister Jeff Lloyd saying he expects schools to be back to face-to-fact learning in just a couple of months.
Getting students back to school is absolutely something that will be welcomed – if it can be done safely. Teachers have done their best trying to teach students remotely. Students have managed as best they can – though many have not engaged in online classes, for whatever reason, and those students more than any other will most need a return to normality. Parents have become tutors at home too, juggling lessons on maths and foreign languages alongside their day jobs where possible. It’s been far from ideal, it has to be said.
But the key has to be safety. We are encouraged that Mr Lloyd says the guidance will come from the Ministry of Health, and we hope that the ructions between the government and teachers can be set aside to ensure a safe working environment, and for schools to be a place where children can come and study without the fear of bringing home COVID-19, and sparking a new wave of infections.
Getting this wrong could cost people their lives – so we absolutely need a united front to make things as safe as they can be. Will we see that? Over to you, Mr Lloyd. Take the lead.