It’s high time the government has a direct interaction with the residents of the island, in particular East Grand Bahama, regarding the proposed Oban Energies refinery and storage facility.
By now, East Grand Bahama Member of Parliament K. Peter Turnquest, who is also the Minister of Finance, should have held town meetings in the area. We don’t think Turnquest is unconcerned about his constituents, but it is indeed disrespectful that he has not given them the opportunity in a public forum to ask questions and get a better understanding of the arrangement made between the Government of The Bahamas and Oban Energies.
Clearly he is of the view that the government has an obligation to fully inform constituents of East Grand Bahama and residents of the wider island about the proposed project, and to hear their views and receive suggestions. We take this position because Turnquest did in fact announce that town meetings were to be held in East Grand Bahama about a month ago.
However because of other commitments, it is understood, he called the meetings off. Strangely though, the situation has not yet been revisited. That is odd. It’s almost as though Turnquest and his colleagues are avoiding facing the people. It does indeed look like there is a preference on the part of Turnquest and the government to allow Oban Energies’ representatives to take on residents and the environmental activists.
To Oban Energies’ credit, one town meeting was in fact, held in East Grand Bahama. Oban President Satpal Dhunna boldly faced scores of attendees, some of whom were highly critical of the project and voiced strong objections. It was an inconclusive setting as the reactions were mixed.
Oban Energies promised to hold more town meetings, but as yet, has not announced a date or dates. When the full scenario is taken into consideration, it makes sense for Oban Energies to hold off on the town meetings, at least until the Environmental Impact Assessment has been done and a report presented to the government.
Quite frankly Oban Energies has upstaged the government. Dhunna spoke to Grand Bahamians and others interested, with conviction, and nice-sounding promises at the town meeting. It was a good step.
On the other hand, Turnquest and his government colleagues seem to be holding back. Obviously, they have no difficulty in making statements about the hot national issue, but appear hesitant to face the people in an open forum.
We say, that high level government representatives should meet with residents regarding Oban Energies.
Face the music!