NASSAU, The Bahamas – Prime Minister, Dr. the Hon. Hubert A. Minnis Monday (September 4, 2017) challenged Bahamians and persons residing in The Bahamas to take the threat of Hurricane Irma “very seriously.”
“Life is precious. We must make every effort to preserve and protect life, including the elderly, the indigent and other vulnerable individuals,” Prime Minister Minnis said.
“The threat of Irma must be taken seriously. While property must be secured, material possessions can be replaced. The priority is to take precautions to save lives and minimize the risk of harm and injury.”
Addressing a press briefing Monday to update members of the general public and private institutions about the preparedness measures being undertaken by the relevant essential government services in anticipation of Hurricane Irma, Prime Minister Minnis said the Government of The Bahamas will do “all in its power” to ensure that the country is fully prepared for all aspects of disaster management and mitigation efforts – including rescue and recovery efforts.
Preparations, Prime Minister Minnis said, include ensuring that emergency communication networks, including with all Family Islands, are tested and ready for use.
Prime Minister Minnis said: “Even as the Government is taking the necessary precautions to prepare for Hurricane Irma, I want to stress the need for preparation by the general public and private institutions.”
This includes monitoring the location of the hurricane by listening to updates available via reliable radio, television and social media outlets. This especially includes updates that are issued through the National Emergency Management Agency, The Department of Meteorology, other essential government services and non-government organizations that work closely with the Government of The Bahamas.
“Bahamians and residents should avoid relying on sources of information which may be questionable or unreliable, especially potentially fake information circulated through social media,” Prime Minister Minnis said.
“Bahamians and residents throughout the country need to monitor the location and proximity of Irma to the island or cay on which they live. Maritime traffic, fishermen and boaters should take all necessary precautions as Hurricane Irma approaches The Bahamas,” Prime Minister Minnis added.
Prime Minister Minnis said depending on the track of the storm, there might be need for evacuations to shelters or other secure locations.
“Various agencies will continue to provide the necessary preparedness updates and information,” Prime Minister Minnis added.
Prime Minister Minnis also called on all in-country to ensure that they have the necessary supplies in the event Hurricane Irma affects various parts of the country.
“This includes gathering supplies such as food, water, medicine, gasoline, flashlights, radios, batteries and any other necessary supplies. The Government has already advised the general public and all retailers and wholesalers (about) essential items, particularly breadbasket food items, medical and prescription drug supplies as well as hurricane preparedness items such as plywood and nails.
“Price-gouging, and specifically the hoarding of items for speculation or profiteering as well as the marking up of prices by retailers and wholesalers in the advent of a potential natural disaster are criminal offences under the terms of the Price Control Act and the Regulations made under that Act.
“I have instructed the Prices Commission to commence a programme of strict supervision, review and monitoring of the prices being charged for the mentioned essential items, starting immediately. I have urged the Commission to report any suspected violations to the Office of the Attorney-General which has – in consultation with the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Royal Bahamas Police Force – committed to aggressively investigate any information which might indicate any of the elements of what is termed price-gouging and to act accordingly should such evidence be found,” Prime Minister Minnis added.
Prime Minister Minnis said his government is acting with an “abundance of caution” in anticipation of Hurricane Irma.
“While we hope that we are not adversely affected by Hurricane Irma, the best course of action is to be well-prepared in advance. We will continue to report to the country as we remain vigilant and closely monitor events.”