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THIS WEEK IN THE BAHAMAS (Continued)…

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best cialis see times;”>Prime Minister Christie updates House on post hurricane assessments

viagra sale for sale times;”>Assuring Bahamians everywhere that as a nation, “we will recover; we will restore,” in a one hour and eight minutes House communication on Wednesday Prime Minister Christie updated the House members and the nation on the assessment following the passage of category four Hurricane Joaquin, a storm he characterized as “unprecedented and relentless.” 

Speaking about the hardest hit island, Crooked Island, Christie said sixty-five percent of the homes there received major damage; twenty-five percent received moderate damage; six percent received minor damage and four percent were totally destroyed. He noted that some of the houses that sustained major damage would likely be condemned.

Additionally, the Prime Minister said that all public schools received major damage while all government buildings received minor to moderate damage.

Fifty-five percent of the island’s churches sustained major damage while forty-five received minor damage.

As for the tourism plant, the Prime Minister said that eighty-five percent of resort properties received major damage.

Concerning infrastructure on the island, PM Christie said that Thompson’s Bridge was destroyed and eighty-five percent of the sand seal pavement on the island’s roads had “decayed.”

“Aggravated flooding and surges may have resulted in the contamination of private wells” continued the PM.

Commenting on the extensive damage to the public power plant and grid, Mr. Christie advised the House that the Caribbean Electric Utility Services Corporation (CARILEC) will send four teams in to assist the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) in restoring the power generation infrastructure.

The Prime Minister also revealed that during the rebuilding phase, the government will assist in the relocation of some residents.

With the initial assessments completed, Christie told the House that he would sign exigency orders later that day to allow for the duty free importation of building materials so that property owners in the affected islands can begin their rebuilding efforts.

Speaking to the “strength and indomitable spirit” of the Bahamian people, Prime Minister Christie said that “we are a nation that cannot be kept down because together we will rise higher.”

“…We will recover. We will restore. We will continue to rise” concluded the Prime Minister.   

MV “El Faro:” the untold tragedy

In the midst of the national dialogue and the frenzy of the numerous recovery and relief efforts in the wake of the tragedy of Joaquin, the untold tragedy was the disappearance of an American merchant ship caught in the storm and lost power. The US Coast Guard called off its search and rescue mission on Wednesday, 7th October and the Bahamas Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued the following statement of condolences to the governments of the United States of America and Poland: 

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs wishes publicly to express to the Government of the United States and the Government of Poland its sadness at the apparent loss of the lives of American and Polish mariners on board the ship the “El Faro”.  

“The ship went missing during the height of Hurricane Joaquin and the search for it and its crew was officially suspended on 7th October.  

“The human loss is tragic.   

“We know that this has caused great sadness and distress to the families of those who are feared lost at sea.  

“The Government of The Bahamas thanks the United States Coastguard and all who assisted in the search and rescue efforts in the matter of the El Faro and more generally for the work of the Coastguard and other US entities with Bahamian agencies during the hurricane and its aftermath. 

“A diplomatic note with similar expressions will be sent to the United States and Poland.” 

Mitchell discusses migration at the UNHCR

Migration took center stage at the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) this week as member states met in Geneva, Switzerland to present their respective country statements on the global issue of irregular migration. Delivering the Bahamas’ statement on Monday, 5th October 2015 was Foreign Minister Hon. Fred Mitchell. 

Reiterating the government’s fundamental philosophy on migration, Mitchell told delegates that “no matter the circumstance, The Bahamas adheres to the belief that people everywhere deserve to live in a world free from violence and fear, where dignity and integrity of the human being is preserved.”

While conceding that safe and orderly migration is achieved through multi-lateral dialogue and cooperation, Mitchell stood firm in the belief that territorial borders must be protected in order to prevent countries from being overrun by illegal migrants.   

“The Government of The Bahamas supports the view that dialogue and cooperation with countries of origin, transit and destination is necessary for safe and orderly migration. The Bahamas is mindful of its international obligations in this regard but recognizes the importance of protecting its borders, to prevent it being overrun by illegal migrants.”

He reaffirmed The Bahamas’ commitment to the Brazil Declaration and the Global Plan of Action aimed at “finding durable sustainable solutions to protect those forced to relocate due to political instability, the adverse impacts of climate change, transnational crimes and harsh socio-economic conditions.” 

Gender-based violence taskforce reveals strategic plan

On Monday of this week, the National Task Force on Gender-Based Violence and their stakeholders revealed the National Strategic Plan they developed to address gender-based violence. 

The meeting was held at the Ministry of social Services and Community Development, through the Bureau of Women’s Affairs. 

The Strategic Plan defined gender-based violence, described the scope and depth of the problem and provided the rationale and approach for the development of a national strategy. This is set out in the Gender-Based Violence (GBV) Authority inclusive of the ten programmes designed to address this problem in the first year of the GBV Authority.

Background:

In July 2012, the Bahamas Government agreed to participate in the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) Strengthening State Accountability and Community Action for Ending Violence against Women Project, which has been implemented in some ten countries in the Caribbean. 

In July 2013, The Government of The Bahamas launched a National Task Force to oversee the development, implementation and coordination of a national strategic plan to address gender based-violence.      

The leadership of the taskforce is as follows: Chairperson, Justice Rubie Nottage (Retired); and Deputy Chairpersons, Dr. Sandra Dean-Patterson, Consultant in the Ministry of Social Services and Community Development and Director of The Bahamas Crisis Centre, and Dr. Robin Roberts, Director and Senior Lecturer, University of the West Indies (UWI) School of Clinical Medicine and Research (Bahamas) and Consultant Urologist in the Ministry of Health. 

In Passing…

Justice Stephen Isaacs was sworn in as Acting Chief Justice by Governor General HE Dame Marguerite Pindling in a short ceremony at Government House on Monday, 5th October 2015. 

An official National Heroes Day ceremony will be held on Monday, 12th October 2015 at the Botanical Gardens at 10 am. Presiding will be Canon Sebastian Campbell and Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie will deliver the keynote address. 

The communities of Bain and Grants towns will celebrate our National Heroes with a week of activities where the community will honour heroes from a cross section of civil society, including our youth. 

The Grand Bahama office of the Ministry of Tourism held a press conference on Wednesday of this week to announce the 43rd Conch Cracking Festival scheduled for Monday, 12th October 2015 in McClean’s Town on the eastern tip of Grand Bahama. All are encouraged to support this signature family event that includes the conch cracking competition, cultural traditions, games and musical entertainment. 

Her Excellency Dame Marguerite Pindling, Governor-General, hosted the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture’s National Youth Awards Nominee Medal Presentation Ceremony at Government House on Tuesday, October 6, 2015. One hundred and sixty-seven young people were nominated in various fields such as leadership, education and sports. Minister of Youth Sports and Culture the Hon. Dr. Daniel Johnson declared that the ceremony highlighted our youth who are doing good things in their communities. 

Negotiations on the future of the stalled Baha Mar mega resort project resumed this week with all relevant stakeholders huddled in two days of closed door meetings. For the first time the developer, Sarkis Izmirlian, is a part of the negotiations since the 14 companies that comprise Baha Mar filed for bankruptcy in a Delaware court on 29thJune 2015. Subsequent negotiations in both China and The Bahamas have not yielded an out-of-court settlement on the way forward for the $3.5 billion mega resort. The other stakeholders are the two independent joint liquidators; China Construction America (CCA), the general contractor; and the China Export/Import Bank (EXIM), the financier. 

The Kemp Road office of Urban Renewal in conjunction with the Ministry of National Security hosted a job fair in the Kemp Road community in response to the high levels of unemployment in the area. Several local businesses including a number of security firms participated in the fair and the ones that could not send a representative made their presence felt by delivering application forms. The organizers called the jobs fair a success. 

The Bahamas Cabinet Office announced that a State-Recognized Funeral will be held for former Senator the late Alexander P. Maillis on Monday, 12th October 2015 at the Greek Orthodox Church on West Street. Interment will follow at the family’s farm near Adelaide Beach. Mr. Maillis was an entrepreneur, investing in the agriculture, hotel, night club and restaurant industries. He was appointed to the Senate by the late Prime Minister Sir Lynden Pindling after the 1972 general elections where he served until 1978. Mr. Maillis died in his sleep on Saturday at the age of 99. 

The Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA) revealed on Thursday of this week that the Grand Bahama Power Company (GBPC) submitted a rate filing for its review during the first week of August, 2015. The filing is part of the GBPA’s Operating Protocol and Regulatory Framework which documents how electricity rates will be set for the Grand Bahama Power Company (GBPC); this first of a kind framework was established in 2012. If approved, the statement said that the new rate structure would mean a reduction in the “all-in” price of electricity for 85% of residential customers and is a “very important step in beginning to assist Grand Bahama’s low income based residents.” According to the GBPA, the cost of electricity will remain relatively flat for commercial customers when compared to the average “all-in” price for 2015. “The proposed all-in rates (inclusive of fuel and base rate) are returning to almost 2008 levels, delivering significant price stability to customers,” said the statement.