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Govt will spend $1.5 mil. in first phase of cleanup program

Starting next week, the government will launch an extensive “cleanup and beautification” program on New Providence and several islands at an initial cost of $1.5 million, Minister of the Environment and Natural Resources Vaughn Miller said yesterday.

Miller said the program, which will begin on Monday, is a collaboration between his ministry and the Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development.

“All of us in here, including those on the side opposite, will agree — and they told me this is not the correct way to say it, but I have to say it the way it is — that our little island is filthy,” Miller said in the House of Assembly.

“It’s dirty. The time has long been gone to clean it up.

“Specific concentration will be placed on New Providence and the major Family Islands.

“The Family Islands to be addressed in phase one are Andros, Bimini, Cat Island, Eleuthera, Exuma and Great Harbour Cay.”

Miller continued, “We will commence with the communities of Fox Hill, Freetown, Centreville, Englerston, Bain and Grants Town and Fort Charlotte and will focus on the removal of derelict vehicles from properties within those communities, followed by the systematic removal of all bulk waste.

“Immediately following this exercise, the Ministry of Social Services, through the office of the Urban Renewal Commission, will move into the aforementioned constituencies with teams identified from within the various communities to carry out roadside cleaning, where required, as well as to clean vacant lots as necessary.

“Bahamians should be aware that over the past three years, the Department of Environmental Health Services has removed more than 8,500 derelict vehicles from communities throughout The Bahamas and it is estimated that the activities earmarked for phase one of the project in New Providence alone will cost about $1.1 million.

“In the Family Islands, the cost is projected at some $400,000.

“Additionally, the minister with responsibility for social services, through the office of Urban Renewal, in collaboration with the Office of the Prime Minister, will focus on the acquisition of vacant properties for the erection of community centers, parks and recreational facilities where residents can exercise within their community.

“Additionally, the upgrade in these communities will include adequate street lighting, street sign replacements, repairs to potable water system and a total refurbishment of all government rental complexes to facilitate a better life for Bahamians.

“Furthermore, the Urban Renewal Commission, headed by former ACP Stephen Dean, in partnership with former Cabinet minister Leslie “Potcake” Miller will, with various community partners, renovate homes that are in dire need of repairs.”

Miller also said the government will collaborate with landlords to ensure that their rental properties are upgraded.

“Some landlords are slumlords,” Miller said to a mix of laughter and gasps in the House.

“So, landlords if you are not acting right, we are coming after you. Get your houses in order.”

Opposition Leader Michael Pintard asked Miller whether “individuals or companies” will be hired for the program and what kind of hiring process will be used.

Miller said both individuals and companies will be hired and his ministry will abide by the hiring guidelines in place at his ministry.