Deputy Prime Minister K. Peter Turnquest, Member of Parliament for East Grand Bahama, inclusive of the quaint community of Sweeting’s Cay, travelled to the island last month where he met with a number of constituents, hearing their concerns and addressing issues that have been plaguing that eastern settlement for quite some time.
This daily had the opportunity to travel with the DPM and during the visit, he made a concerted effort to speak with many of the residents, individually, who expressed their general concerns with respect to the plaguing issues of the channel separating the Cay from the mainland of Grand Bahama, as well as the vexing garbage issues.
Residents told Turnquest that they have been confronted with these issues for years.
Sweeting’s Cay District Council Member Bazel Tate led a tour of the Cay, where Turnquest was able to witness, the issues regarding the difficulty passing the channel during low tides and inclement weather, and garbage disposal the DPM reassured constituents that he will ensure that the matter is looked into and rectified expeditiously.
However, he noted that firstly, the passage of the channel and addressing the sand bank issue takes precedence.
Admitting that the channel issue is not new, Turnquest noted that there must be a permanent fix to the problem.
He added that there must and will be a short-term solution, with respect to removing the influx of sand that has created a barrier between the Cay and the mainland of Grand Bahama, within the channel.
Earlier in February, this year, this daily had the opportunity to speak with Turnquest regarding the channel where he noted that the Ministry of Works is quite aware of the severity of the issue and are looking into a permanent solution to the problem.
“We have recently reached out to the Minister of Works (Desmond Bannister) to have a look at this issue. He has directed the Director of Works (Melanie Roach) to address the matter. She has reported that an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is necessary in order to authorize any dredging, which is really what it needs; the channel needs to be cleared. We have identified a coastal engineer to have a look at it.
“Hopefully, that will get done shortly and we can get that work started but it is very much a matter that we are aware of and addressing. Hopefully, we will be able to come up with a cost-effective solution and a permanent solution. This is not the first time that the channel has had to be cleared. The last time that it was done they did it without a study, and, as a result the channel closed up again. This time we want to do it right and have it addressed as quickly as possible,” said Turnquest.
As for the unsanitary disposal of both household and bulk waste, again, Turnquest, agreed that the issue is a great cause of concern and that it will be addressed.
“However, the removal of the debris goes back to having the dilemma with the respect to the channel addressed.”
The DPM added, “I have brought the matter to the attention of the minister responsible (Minister of Environment, Romauld Ferreira) and we are looking at a solution. He has either been over or is expected to go over to have a look at it for himself to see how we might be able to deal with that, on island, preferably. But if not, we will see how we can somehow arrange for something to be done, for the garbage to be removed. It is not a simple challenge, unfortunately.”
In addition to the two major problems previously mentioned, Turnquest also spent time with a number of the residents, listening to other concerns and recommendations for the Cay moving forward.