Progress update on reconstruction program
In his first National Report for 2020, Prime Minister the Most Hon. Dr. Hubert Minnis announced two major announcements for the storm-ravaged islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama, and provided an update on the Government’s reconstruction program post-Hurricane Dorian.
A heads of agreement will be signed on Thursday 13 February for a $300 million five-star residential resort and marina development in South Abaco.
On 2 March, the Government will sign an agreement for the sale of the Grand Lucyan Resort and Casino in Grand Bahama.
“In order to restore the lives of the people of Abaco and Grand Bahama we must boost economic activity and development on both islands,” said the Prime Minister.
The sale of the Grand Lucayan Resort will help with the long-term recovery and renewal of Grand Bahama, resulting in scores of jobs during reconstruction and development and long-term employment, business and entrepreneurial opportunities for the island’s residents, said Prime Minister Minnis.
The project could mean approximately 2,000 to 3,000 jobs for Grand Bahama, he noted.
The South Abaco development will include branded hotels and a full-size golf course, and is expected to employ approximately 600 people during the construction phase and 600 during operation.
“The project will provide a variety of entrepreneurial opportunities for Abaconians and Bahamians in a number of areas, including agriculture, fisheries, heritage tourism and many other areas,” said the Prime Minister.
The project will also include the enhancement of the Sandy Point Airport.
Prime Minister said the Government and its agencies have delivered aid and assistance in various forms during the post-emergency phase of the Dorian response.
In Grand Bahama, the Department of Social Services has helped 514 families with rent and paid out more than $700,000. Also, appliance assistance continues with 300 applications processed to the value of $400,000.
More than $1.7 million have been paid out in unemployment benefits to Grand Bahamians affected by the temporary closure of businesses after the storm.
Significant debris cleanup is ongoing on Grand Bahama and Abaco. To speed up the debris removal process, the Disaster Reconstruction Authority will issue new debris removal contracts with new terms of reference, effective 17 February, said Prime Minister Minnis.
Resources will be added to debris management sites at Spring City, Treasure Cay, Pelican Point in McLean’s Town and High Rock. In all settlements in East End and Freeport, Grand Bahama there has been significant clean up and removal of debris and road repair efforts are ongoing.
Regarding power generation, in Grand Bahama, all customers whose premises are ready for power, now have power.
In Abaco, South Abaco to Wilson City is powered up. Spring City is also powered up. Green Turtle Cay was powered up before Christmas.
Work is ongoing on Elbow Cay and Man-o-War Cay. Poles are being delivered to Guana Cay.
In Marsh Harbour, extensive work is needed and is underway. Essential services are powered up and work in the downtown area is taking place.
Portions of Central Pines are powered up and 75 percent of poles are planted in Murphy Town. To date, approximately 50 solar streetlights are installed in central Abaco.
Prime Minister Minnis said the Government is working to reopen schools that closed and to fix those wit damage that are open.
Fox Town Primary School in Abaco has undergone a significant electrical upgrade. Repairs to Cooper’s Town Primary School are expected to be completed at the end of the month. S.C. Bootle High School in Cooper’s Town is expected to be completed before the end of the school year.
Plans are under review for the Amy Roberts Primary School on Green Turtle Cay. Work has started on the Central Abaco Primary School. It is anticipated that it will be completed by the end of April.
In Grand Bahama, the plan is to construct one school campus to serve East Grand Bahama. All other public schools on Grand Bahama are expected to have upgrades during the summer.
As a part of recovery efforts, as of 5 February, the Small Business Development Centre, has approved a total of 74 applications for funding: 31in Abaco and 43 in Grand Bahama.
Approximately 600 applications have been received and are being processed.
Total funding of $2.2 million dollars have been approved for both Abaco and Grand Bahama businesses, out of a total allocated of $10 million dollars.
“There is no quick fix. Dorian was a historic storm. By wind speed, it was the second strongest storm ever recorded in the Atlantic,” said Prime Minister Minnis.
“Anyone who professes quick-fix solutions to the catastrophic damage caused is not credible.
After Dorian struck, my Government knew that no small island developing state could respond on its own. We welcomed in help from foreign governments, NGOs, charities, multilateral agencies, churches and individuals.
“Our response is still in unison with these partners.
“As your Prime Minister, I pledge that we will be there with you at every stage of this massive rebuilding and reconstruction effort.
“We will help Bahamians in need, in Abaco, the Abaco Cays and Grand Bahama.”