NASSAU, BAHAMAS — East Grand Bahama MP Kwasi Thompson yesterday expressed concern for the needs of people within the Grand Bahama and Abaco communities which are still struggling to recuperate after Hurricane Dorian.
He made an appeal to this administration to not discontinue the Special Economic Recovery Zones Order which expires in December.
“I’ve been getting calls and social media, text messages, even being stopped on the road to send a transparent message to the federal government to increase the SERZ Order for constructing materials, appliances, furniture, and supplies. The SERZ Order involves an end in December of this 12 months. In Grand Bahama and Abaco we’re clearly still in recovery mode,” Thompson said.
The House Speaker granted Thompson permission to read two notes sent from constituents in Grand Bahama and Abaco who gave details of how they might be impacted if the order was discontinued.
The primary letter was written by an Abaconian who identified that there have been some people still camping of their homes, having not been in a position to acquire the items needed to refurbish their living space. The sender added that discontinuing the order can be unacceptable on may levels.
The message painted an image of the scene on the bottom, which was described as looking apocalyptical and a few houses being in ‘utter damage.’
“What’s going to occur to those properties?” the note read, “The owners cant afford the high cost of knocking them down but then the remainder of us must live with the each day reminder and a few places also seem like a warzone, granted there was lots of improvement but its removed from complete.” one letter stated.
The constituent, added that the homes in some areas may look nice to those driving by, nonetheless lots of them are gutted on the within, and if nothing is completed, many would never be whole again.
Within the second letter, a lady from Turtle Reef, Bevans Town in Grand Bahama explained that her 16-year-old family home was rendered unlivable resulting from the impact of Hurricane Dorian in 2019.
“[…] I then lost my job resulting from the pandemic […] until recently we haven’t been unable to reap the benefits of the SERZ concessions due to the lack of income.”
Thompson added that the sender said she was in the midst of constructing a new home in Freeport and nervous that her family wouldn’t give you the chance to afford the extra supplies and fixtures needed to finish the structure.
“We’re eager to finish our home and get out of paying each rent and a mortgage at the identical time, being in such a dire situation can hardly be considered economic recovered.
“[…]I’m hopeful that our government will consider extending the SERZ Order, even when just for extenuating circumstances to Bahamians in Abaco and in Grand Bahama,” she said.
After reading the 2 notes, Thompson urged the PLP administration, which has planned for the discontinuation of the SERZ Order on December 1, 2022, to reconsider the choice for the sake of those in desperate need on the islands that were most greatly impacted by Hurricane Dorian.
“I implore the federal government to hearken to the voice of the people, hearken to the people in Grand Bahama, hearken to the people in Abaco. Take VAT off of food, take VAT off of medication, and proceed to increase the SERZ Order for the people in Grand Bahama and the people in Abaco.”
In response to Thompson’s request, Minister of State for Disaster Preparedness, Management, and Reconstruction, Myles LaRoda said that the federal government will take the suggestions into consideration.
“I personally visited the devastation that has happened in Grand Bahama and yes, no government has the capability to do all. On this side we are going to do as much as we will for as many as we will and hopefully, that may suffice.
“And measures that he [Thompson] would have raised, I’m not too big to take that to Cabinet to contemplate,” LaRoda said.