FREEPORT, Grand Bahama – The Minister of State for Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction, the Hon. Iram Lewis, is a part of a multi-million-dollar debris removal project, in conjunction with the Grand Bahama Port Authority and Sanitation Services.
During a press conference on Wednesday, August 12 at the Ministry’s office in the Star General Building, Minister Lewis said that since the passing of Hurricane Dorian in September of 2019, Grand Bahama and Abaco have been declared disaster zones and the partnership is working to clear the island of debris.
He said, “Without their partnership, I can assure you, we would not have realized the level of success that the DRA [Disaster Reconstruction Authority] has seen to date.”
As it is the hurricane season, Minister Lewis continued, prior to Tropical Storm Isaias heading towards The Bahamas, they realized there was a lot of debris throughout Grand Bahama in both public and private subdivisions.
Through the partnership, they have intensified the clearing of debris and “the government, through the DRA, has ventured into areas we are not responsible for, private subdivisions. But, as a government, it would have been very reckless for us to realize we have debris sitting down in areas that pose a threat to our citizens, either from the perspective of being projectiles or just through trash in the communities that breed diseases and cause rodent infestation.
“So, as a responsible government, and with our partners, we have undertaken the task that was not necessarily in our portfolio. But we decided we had to do it on behalf of the people.
“Like I said, I cannot over emphasize the appreciation that we have through our partners.”
Minister Lewis asked residents to please clean their communities and keep it clean and report indiscriminate dumping that would make the entire exercise a waste of time and money.
Troy Mcintosh, Deputy Director and City Manager at the Grand Bahama Port Authority, said they are ensuring that private subdivisions are being cleared and through the partnership, they have removed the debris, particularly since knowing some of the developers have had challenges.
To date, more than 25,000 truckloads of debris, approximately 100,000 tons, has been moved to the landfill.
He said he hopes this partnership is the first of many to get the city of Freeport back to being “clean, green and pristine.”
Also present at the press conference was Lou Carroll of Sanitation Services.
Minister Lewis also noted that a foreign company had submitted a proposal to remove the debris for over $100M, but they have been able to have the work done locally, employing Bahamians and spending $13M.
It is expected the debris removal project will be near completion in one week.