Justice Centre “mold” issue problematic for government

From left Frederick McAlpine, Kwasi Thompson and Desmond Bannister.

The Bahamas Government is burdened with national issues it is obliged to address in favor of the people of the country. In Grand Bahama, the downturn of the economy presents a major challenge for Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis and his collegues.

Then, there are other matters of great concern.

For instance there is a mold infestation problem that is ongoing. The Garnet Levarity Justice Centre has a major mold issue.
What is the government doing about that.

Well, Pineridge Member of Parliament Rev. Frederick McAlpine in speaking with The Freeport News, sought to put the matter into perspective.He discussed the ongoing issue during an exclusive interview with this daily on Wednesday (August 8) and gave the government the benefit of the doubt and expressed the belief that the matter will be rectified.

“The government is very concerned and is aware of it and will do all it can in its power as it has already committed to do through the Ministry of Works to rectify it at its earliest convenience,” he said.

With regards to having an independent study, Reverend McAlpine stated that he is aware one has already taken place but unsure as to whether it was done by the government or otherwise.

He noted that instead of going through another round of studies or tests, the government should just deal with the issue at hand because the problem has been identified.

“I wish for the best outcome for all parties involved in this situation and hope that they can come together to resolve the issue as quickly as possible for the benefit of the people of Grand Bahama,” said the Pineridge MP.

McAlpine’s comments followed the Families for Justice Organization’s appeal to him for independent testing to be carried out at the Garnet Levarity Justice Centre because of the “dangerous mold.”

Representatives from the organization hosted a press conference to discuss the issue.

President of the group Pastor Glenroy Bethel stated that The Families for Justice organization agreed, to make the appeal to the Member of Parliament for Pineridge Mr. Frederick McAlpine.

“This suspected deadly mold is known as The Black Mold. This type of mold affects the nervous system in human beings and can cause death if not treated in time. It is our mission that an independent testing be done, outside of the government agency for the safety and peace of mind for all staff members and community at large.

“Therefore, we call upon the Member of Parliament to lead this charge to ensure that the public and the staff members receive the highest level of safety in their work environment and community,” said Bethel.

He called for a relocation of court so that staff and members of the public would no longer be exposed to the mold.

According to Bethel, the same type of deadly mold also appeared at the Immigration Department in Freeport and it was shut down for two weeks.

“So there is a real concern, not only from our organization but also from the court staff members,” he said.
Bethel gave details of testing efforts previously to determine whether staff members were infected.

“On Friday July 27, 2018 it was confirmed that testing had begun with the first 15 court staff members, and other members were to follow. This was reported to the families for Justice Organization.

“We as an organization, are of the view, that the results of all 57 staff members of the court should be made public and available to the Member of Parliament for Pine Ridge Freeport, Grand Bahama,” he said.

Before this press conference, staff members at the courthouse held a protest against the unhealthy conditions in the building. Also Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister Senator J. Kwasi Thompson addressed the issue during a press conference on Wednesday (July 25).

Senator Thompson expressed concern about health and safety of courthouse employees and said that medical assessments were appropriate. He said that “the government is working diligently, doing all that is necessary to ensure the safety of all and that there is no disruption in the Magistrate Court operations as well as that of the Industrial Tribunal.”

Thompson also informed of major renovations to be conducted on the building by the Ministry of Works.

Included in the scope of work will be repairs to the roof, along with major renovations, which it is believed, will prevent the continuation of the spread of mold.

After initial investigations, it was determined that the Supreme Court side of the building was not affected as much as the Magistrate Court.

In April of this year, during a visit to Grand Bahama, Minister of Works T. Desmond Bannister toured the Garnet Levarity Justice Center as well as other capital works projects.

For the past three years, the courthouse building has been in a state of disrepair. Other than the mold, the Minister informed that there are major issues with the roof.

“There’s some critical issues. That building has a flat roof and we’ve never been able to have great success with flat roofs in the Bahamas. We’ve had engineers down here two weeks ago to look at the roof. We’re going to have to peel that whole roof back and reinstate it before we can do anything to the building,” he said.

He added that the Ministry is currently budgeting for an entire reinstatement of that roof.

“There are many challenges in that building that we have to address. I believe there’s been some challenges to the construction that were overlooked, which we have to address; air conditioning issues that have to be addressed and some other structural issues that have to be addressed,” he said.

He added that he suspected that the public will see the building returning its rightful state over the period of a year or by sometime next July.

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