Categorized | Featured, National News

New Disaster Ministry

Prime Minister Minnis (at podium), and Mr. Lewis

The government established the new Ministry of Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction and appointed Central Grand Bahama Member of Parliament Iram Lewis as minister of state to lead the ministry.

The formation of the new ministry was announced by Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis during a press conference yesterday at the Office of the Prime Minister, where he also announced that Lewis will be sworn in at 3 p.m. today at Government House.

Following the catastrophic devastation of Hurricane Dorian, the government believes the Ministry of Disaster Preparedness will help to focus and coordinate the national response for the recovery and reconstruction of Grand Bahama and Abaco.

“The main body of the ministry will function as an authority, similar to the Public Hospitals Authority,” Dr. Minnis said.

“The authority will be responsible for the reconstruction of Abaco and East Grand Bahama.

“The authority will have an executive director and board that will help to oversee the redevelopment of Abaco and East Grand Bahama.  The authority will have the powers and instruments of other such authorities, with the ability to act with great flexibility and rapidly.”

The new ministry will be located at the Office of the Prime Minister.

According to Dr. Minnis, the new ministry will be responsible for relations with the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), relations with Family Island Consultative Committees and administrators and disaster preparedness.

“Disaster preparedness will include working with local authorities in the development of plans and the construction of high capacity, reinforced hurricane shelters on high ground in vulnerable communities throughout The Bahamas,” Dr. Minnis said, adding that disaster preparedness also includes “working with NEMA in the pre-positioning of hurricane relief stores, foodstuffs, water and supplies.”

In addition, the prime minister said disaster preparedness involves the “pre-positioning of life rafts, life jackets, generators, chainsaws, jet skis, tools and heavy equipment and other material to provide immediate services to affected areas” and “consultation and training of residents in vulnerable communities.”

Dr. Minnis noted that disaster preparedness also includes implementing and overseeing the enforcement of mandatory evacuation orders.

“I note that the government is still in the consultation stage on legislation for these proposed orders,” he said. “No final decisions have been made in terms of legislation.”

The Ministry of Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction will also be responsible for disaster response.

“Enhanced disaster response measures will include coordinating immediate relief and response efforts with NEMA and Family Island administrators and emergency operations committees, relations with NGOs, NPOs and civil society relief efforts,” Dr. Minnis said.

“The new ministry will be responsible for disaster relief and recovery.  This includes coordinating efforts, directives and works with local relief and restoration authorities appointed by the prime minister to initiate immediate ‘on the ground’ relief efforts in affected communities, with powers to marshal local resources and manpower and to issue short-term contracts for any necessary rescue or recovery efforts, the removal of debris and road clearance in the immediate aftermath of a disaster in affected communities.

“As a part of its disaster reconstruction work, the ministry will coordinate the longer-term rebuilding process and provide comprehensive short, medium and long-term recovery assessments, determining preferred options and prioritizing lists of recovery projects, provide policy guidelines for use of finances.

“The ministry will prepare comprehensive assessments and proposals to the central government of the funding needs for reconstruction and rebuilding by providing documentation of those needs. Secure the services of planners and architects who will work with local residents to create plans for rebuilding connected to the availability of funds, become a long range planning task force.”

The prime minister added that the new ministry will also be responsible for the preparation of information to local residents on financial matters and the changing state of local services and securing the approval of all medium and long-term plans from Cabinet.

“As prime minister, I will guide the larger policy objectives of the ministry, help to coordinate the full governmental response to Hurricane Dorian, lead efforts to seek and to promote domestic and international investments and reconstruction initiatives on Abaco and Grand Bahama, help coordinate new public infrastructure and reconstruction projects on Abaco and Grand Bahama and ensure that red tape and bureaucratic roadblocks are cut through or removed,” Dr. Minnis said. 

Written by Jones Bahamas

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Watch JCN Channel 14 Shows

Jcn Channel 14

Sign in now to see your channels and recommendations!

Join Us on Facebook