Categorized | National News

FNM Chairman Blasts Gov’t Over Mayaguana Tragedy- Minister Says Solar Lights For Runway On The Way

Free National Movement (FNM) Chairman Darron Cash blasted the Christie administration Sunday for politicising Thursday’s plane crash on Mayaguana that killed three people.

Mr. Cash said the actions and statements of Prime Minister Perry Christie, Transport and Aviation Minister Glenys Hanna-Martin and Mical MP V. Alfred Gray in the moments following the tragedy were “deeply troubling” and he called on the government to apologise to the Bahamian people.

“After being in office for almost one full year the Christie administration should have had the airport fully operational,” Mr. Cash said in a statement Sunday.

“It is clear that the safety of the people in Mayaguana and elsewhere was simply not a priority for them. Every dollar spent on foreign consultants, clearing bushes and creating jobs for retirees who did not need them could have been diverted to implementing emergency procedures at airports that needed them.”

Thursday’s crash occurred around 1:00 a.m. at the Mayaguana airport as airport officials, residents and volunteers used their vehicle lights to illuminate the runway to assist an emergency flight as it landed.

The nine-seat twin engine aircraft was en route to Mayaguana to collect a male patient when one of its wings collided with a Ford F-150 truck.

All three occupants in the truck were killed in that collision.

The victims, who are all relatives of former Free National Movement (FNM) Member of Parliament Sidney Collie, have been identified as 81-year-old Edith Barnes-Collie (his mother), Enamae and Tim Polowick, Mr. Collie’s sister and brother-in-law.

A short time later Mrs. Hanna-Martin suggested that the actions of the Ingraham-led administration may have been to blame for the accident.

“As a result of this commitment and under my tenure as transport minister between 2002 and 2007, solar powered emergency runway lights were installed at 17 Family Island airports,” the minister said Thursday. “This policy initiative eliminated the need for the use of high beam headlights from vehicles to illuminate Family Island airport runways in emergency situations.”

The government was quick to point out that the Mayaguana Airport is the subject of a Heads of Agreement with the I-Group, a foreign development group, which under the agreement were “obliged to rehabilitate the airport inclusive of lights and runway resurfacing.”

The agreement was however, reviewed by the Ingraham administration for several years and an agreement not finalised between the former government and the I-Group until February2012.

However, Mr. Cash accused the Christie administration of shirking responsibility.

“Putting proper emergency lighting at the Mayaguana Airport would have been considerably cheaper than the $1 million squandered on the referendum and the $15 million that vanished from the Urban Renewal slush fund.”

Mr. Cash added that the accident in Mayaguana highlights further the recklessness and incompetence of the Christie administration.

“It is clear that the people of Mayaguana were simply not a priority for this prime minister,” Mr. Cash said.

“Instead of wasting his time chasing two per cent from BTC in meetings that went nowhere, the prime minister should have been spending his time and energy dealing with issues that addressed the immediate health and safety concerns of Bahamians across the country.”

Following the incident, Mrs. Hanna-Martin and other officials travelled to the island to conduct a preliminary assessment.

She has since reaffirmed the government’s commitment to ensuring that emergency capacity is installed in all airports nationwide, however, she has said that the installation of runway lights at the Mayaguana Airport will be delayed for approximately six weeks because the lights that are needed will have to be specially built.

The minister has also confirmed that the government will move swiftly to ensure that the runways at the Fresh Creek, Andros and Stella Maris, Long Island airports are in proper working order.

Mrs. Hanna-Martin meanwhile, said she expects to receive quotes on the cost of solar lights and their installation at the Mayaguana Airport sometime today.

Over the weekend, Mr. Collie gave his thanks to those who he said have called him to offer their condolences and support to him and his family.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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