Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest.
By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
AMID current economic uncertainty, Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest has expressed hope that Grand Bahama will move forward again in a positive direction.
His comments came at a flag-raising ceremony in Grand Bahama as part of the country’s 47th anniversary of independence.
He noted that Grand Bahama has shown its resilience time after time and will rise again, despite these current major crises.
“The last couple of years have been rough, but we started to see progress. COVID-19 and Hurricane Dorian have put us all down on our knees again. But just as we did in the past we will rise again, and we will start moving again,” he said.
Last September, Grand Bahama was devastated when monster storm Dorian hit the island, causing widespread flooding, destruction, and death. And during its recovery from the hurricane, the coronavirus pandemic forced economic shutdown, impacting the island’s already beleaguered and struggling economy.
The pandemic has also limited the country’s independence celebrations. The flag-raising ceremony held at the Office of the Prime Minister in Freeport will be the island’s only official public celebration this year. However a television programme will air Thursday to mark the occasion.
Mr Turnquest stressed Grand Bahama continues to show its resilience.
“Grand Bahama has a resilient spirit; we have been tested over and over again, and though we stumble and fall to a knee, we have not succumbed to the pressure, disappointment, and despair. We have raised again and again. And every time we hit a road bump or ‘buck our toe,’ we get up and start moving again, even if only at a snail’s pace,” he said.
Mr Turnquest, who is also the Minister of Finance, commended the private sector for its support. “We could not do any of this without your support, encouragement and your entrepreneurial spirit to believe despite challenges that we can and will overcome the challenge of Dorian, and the compounding challenge of COVID-19.”
Minister of State for Grand Bahama Kwasi Thompson said the devastating events that have occurred in Grand Bahama over the last year were unimaginable.
“Since we last met in this very spot last year, we could not have imagined what would have taken place in the next few months,” he said.
Mr Thompson paid tribute and thanks to essential workers on the frontline.
“As we celebrate…we must say thank you to our police, defence officers, doctors and nurses, and immigration and customs officers. All frontline workers, we must pay tribute to you. This is a time to celebrate you and thank you for your service,” he said.
He also acknowledged those who served in the emergency operations centre during Hurricane Dorian even when the Harold DeGregory Complex was underwater.
Additionally, the minister paid special tribute to the COVID-19 task force in Grand Bahama and New Providence.
“It is no small accomplishment that we in Grand Bahama have gone almost two months without seeing a case and in New Providence, it is also not a small accomplishment we have gone 18 days without seeing a COVID case. We give God praise there is none presently, in hospital in the Bahamas being treated for COVID-19,” he said on Friday.