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Dorsett: Pollution a Major Health Hazard

Keeping the environment clean remains a challenge for the Christie administration and Minister of Environment Kenred Dorsett on Wednesday urged Bahamians to do their part in assisting the government in maintaining a pristine environment, he stressed that the issue has created a health hazard for Bahamians.

“As minister responsible for the environment, I am often times concerned by the state of the environment in our country, the high level of illegal and indiscriminate dumping, overgrown verges and green spaces,” he said.

“At present, there are major health and safety concerns associated with our public beaches and parks. One such concern is the accumulation of garbage especially after holidays. This state of affairs has become commonplace not just on our beaches and parks but on our roadsides, vacant properties and verges as well. As a government we have to ensure that the quality of life for Bahamians is superior and I believe that a clean environment can significantly improve our quality of life. In this regard, I implore those Bahamians who dump garbage throughout our streets and neighbourhoods to stop. Despite our efforts to clear and clean illegal dumping sites, there are some among us who continue to dump illegally. For the Department of Environmental Health Services (DEHS) it is difficult to prosecute and pursue culprits that cannot be identified. We must all do our part to keep The Bahamas clean.”

Mr. Dorsett’s comments came during the second reading of the Public Parks and Public Beaches Authority Bill in the House of Assembly on Wednesday.

The bill seeks to form a Public Beach and Parks Authority that will not only manage the upkeep of the environment but the safety of Bahamians as well.

“We plan to ensure that lifeguards are provided for our beaches. As we know, there are a number of Bahamians, even children, who have lost their lives in our waters over the years, in some instances theses were deaths that could have been prevented had there been a trained lifeguard (s) on duty at the beach whom persons could have called on for assistance when they needed it most,” he said.

“These lifeguards and wardens will ensure that all parties, those who frequent the beaches and parks and vendors and tourists conduct themselves in a manner that is not potentially harmful to others. Today there is a concern of motor vessels, like small boats and jet skis, being used too near to the shoreline of public beaches which can be dangerous to swimmers. This behaviour must be curtailed and that can only be done if trained persons are on hand to monitor and deter such activities.”

The bill will also ensure that Bahamians have access to more beaches as the Authority will be charged with establishing written agreements with owners and occupiers of land adjacent to shorelines.

He added that this bill will also pave the way for more green spaces and parks throughout the country while creating a number of employment opportunities.

“The Bahamas Public Parks and Public Beaches Authority will create many new and unique jobs, such as park wardens, interpreters, historians, archaeologists, conservators, management officers, planners, architects, engineers, general labourers and trades people and administrative staff,” he said.

“There will be jobs in administration, financial management, information services and personnel services. Our island’s botanical gardens and public parks which are historic sites, will also have operational staff such as store clerks, labourers, trades people, equipment operators and general maintenance staff.”

Meantime, Opposition Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis said he supports the bill but he urged the government to ensure that the laws for the environment or enforced moving forward.

He said the bill would have significant potential if it is implemented properly.

“In terms of dealing with our crime, our immigration problem, be it in terms of our environmental problems our laws must be enforced and abided by,” he said.

“The basic foundation of any country is its laws and if the laws are not being enforced then it means that there is a crack in that basic foundation and regardless to what is applied on top of that foundation, the entire system crumbles. We do not enforce our laws, regardless to what programs and policies are introduced the basic foundation is faulted and therefore we cannot succeed, we must enforce the laws be it environmental or otherwise or regardless to how much laws we bring here in this parliament we are completely wasting time.”

The Authority when formed will be governed by a twelve member board of directors inclusive of the Director of forestry, a local government representative, the director ex officio, the executive director of The Bahamas National Trust and eight members appointed by the Governor General in consultation with the minister.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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