Minister of Public Works Desmond Bannister.
By LEANDRA ROLLE
WORKS Minister Desmond Bannister yesterday assured the government is not abandoning residents of Ragged Island, noting that a number of projects are lined up to assist with the restoration efforts there.
“What I said in the House of Assembly is possibly by the end of this year (or) early next year, Ragged Island is going to have the prototype for schools in the Family Islands,” he said yesterday.
“It’s going to have one of the best schools anywhere in this county. It’s going to have a community centre. It’s going to have a hurricane shelter. The buildings are going to be protected up to 180 mph, which is (the standard for) very few buildings in this country.
“And it’s going to have residences for the teachers, that they are going to be state of the art plus the solar so I don’t know if that is neglect. That is progress as far as I’m concerned.”
He was asked to respond to criticism from Ragged Island residents who, earlier this week, told The Tribune that they felt “neglected” and “disappointed” with the lack of progress since Hurricane Irma in 2017. Residents say government essential services, a school, clinic or police station among other things remain absent there.
As a part of the government’s plans to redevelop the island, Prime Minister Dr Minnis said his administration would transform Ragged Island into the “first fully green island in the region.”
The government has since awarded a contract to Tugliq Energy Corporation to construct an electrical grid to bring renewable energy to the storm-ravaged island.
Speaking at a ceremony held at Bahamas Power and Light yesterday, Mr Bannister said the government was pleased with the progress being made on the island.
“We’re especially pleased with the progress of the Ragged Island micro grid which represents the first solar based load generation in BPL’s history, and which is already seeing the first solar power set from the solar field to the power grid as of last week,” he said.
“Similar steps are planned for Andros, Eleuthera and Inagua where together with Ragged Island, these plans will serve as a learning laboratory for BPL to allow for better understanding of how to cost effectively implement solar solutions in the Bahamas.
“As a government, we’re investing $100 million in solar projects in the Bahamas over the next five years. We intend to ensure that the abundant natural resources in the Bahamas are captured and exploited in a sustainable and sensible way starting with our natural sunlight,” he said.