An extremely callous statement came forth from the Inter-American Development Bank’s Caribbean Division Manager Therese Turner-Jones earlier this week.
Attributed to her is the following statement, reportedly made at an IDB fiscal workshop:
“It doesn’t make sense to build the island (Ragged Island) because it costs too much. Next year, there is no guarantee that we won’t have another Hurricane Irma or Maria. It’s not to say that those people who love Ragged Island, should not live on Ragged Island. But, I know that it costs money to put roads and electricity and all of those things. The idea of a green city, I think, those costs have to be accessed properly.”
The lady clearly is ignorant of how we in The Bahamas have faced natural disasters, caring and sharing with each other through the years, as a little colony, post Colonial control, through internal-self governance and into the era of independence. Islands have been subsidized. For the most part, they do not generate the volume of income from taxes and otherwise to cover the costs of respective infrastructural projects. Nevertheless, the people of those areas are Bahamians and deserve, and are entitled to just what others in the more affluent sectors of the country get.
Accordingly, generally, Bahamians outside of Ragged Island would be at peace with the government doing whatever is necessary to support the residents and their relatives in a collective rebuilding effort.
This is a Bahamian outlook!
Whether intended or not, the approach taken by Turner-Jones is insensitive. We know that Bahamians, in particular, those closely connected to Ragged Island would consider her words quite offensive.
We must do all that is possible to rebuild Ragged Island.
That’s the way to go!
That’s the only way!
Bahamians are a connected group of people despite the separation of land masses. For the most part, we are all cousins, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, sons and daughters, related in some way through bloodlines or marriages. It was good to discover that our Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest did not bow and accept the view of Turner-Jones on behalf of the IDB.
“We are committed to the extent that our resources allow us, in making Ragged Island a model for sustainable buildings,” he said.
We in the country should always be prudent. The government is obligated to lead the residents along that pathway. However Bahamians struggle together and we help one another. It is not a part of our character to not help with restoration. The government of the day certainly has its challenges. Ensuring a stable economy is a tall order and belts must be tightened.
In the process though, Ragged Island must be rebuilt.
What doesn’t make sense, is a certain comment made by the IDB’s Turner-Jones.