Minister Laroda concludes visit to Abaco ‘determined’ to make a difference

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Minister of State Laroda (at right) and Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, Investments and Aviation, Mr. John Pinder II, touring the Dome City in Spring Point, Abaco during Minister Laroda’s two-day official visit to Abaco and its Cays. The State-Minister was also accompanied by Parliamentary Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister (Abaco), Mr. Kirk Cornish, senior government officials and local government officials in addition to officials of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and the Disaster Reconstruction Authority (DRA), Abaco. (BIS Photo/Matt Maura)

MARSH HARBOUR, Abaco – Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for the Ministry of Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction, the Hon. Myles Laroda, completed his
first Official Visit to Abaco determined to bring about the “much needed” improvements to those parts of the island and its Cays that are still feeling the negative impacts of the fall-out from Hurricane Dorian, two years later.

State Minister Laroda spent two-days in Abaco and its Cays (Thursday, October 21 and Friday, October 22), extensively touring and assessing those parts of the island that were hit by Hurricane Dorian and are still on the road to recovery. His visits took him to Marsh Harbour, Spring City, Cooper’s Town, Central Pines, Moore’s Island, Green Turtle Cay and Hope Town.

The State-Minister said he was “disheartened” by the amount of work that still needs to be done to bring back some sense of normalcy for residents of those areas still recovering from the monster storm, particularly in Spring City — an area in which the Domes were constructed, in which odor from raw sewage remains an issue; and the commercial fishing community of Moore’s Island where residents complained to the State-Minister that they had to use reclaimed wood and nails to repair the Public (Government) Dock – a key factor to their economic survivability and sustainability.

Fisherman’s Dock, a little further down the road from the main Public (Government) Dock, is also in need of repairs, as is the Terminal Building at the Airport.

Minister Laroda said the replacement of the Public/Government Dock and Fisherman’s Dock is of critical importance as the Island is said to derive between 90-95 per cent of its income from commercial fishing ventures and is also reportedly responsible for 90 per cent of the conch stocks that are shipped to New Providence – which he said presented yet another challenge for the residents of Moore’s Island who lamented the fact that their conch stocks could not be processed on-island due to the absence of a
Packing House.

“I cannot stress enough the state of the docks in Moore’s Island,” State Minister Laroda said. “But for the residents who rebuilt that dock with reclaimed wood and reclaimed nails, there would have been nothing for the mailboat to dock, or even the fishing vessels. The dock needs to be replaced as it cannot handle all of the fishing boats on the island in its present state.

“Another problem is created whenever the mailboat comes in. Now you have a much bigger vessel that occupies much more space and so you have less of the fishing boats having the ability to be there. The issue was also raised that there is no Packing House in Moore’s Island and so even though they harvest a lot of the conch that is shipped into New Providence, it is not processed there.

“The docks need to be replaced, the clinic needs to be replaced, the airport terminal needs to be renovated. We cannot have a situation where you have people that are totally cut off and do not have the bare essentials
needed for their survival. I mean a dock, a clinic and an airport on an island for 700 people should not be that hard, particularly when I have seen reports where over $23 million was spent,” Minister Laroda added.

The State-Minister, who also has carriage for the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), and the Disaster Reconstruction Authority (DRA) among his other portfolio responsibilities in the Office of the Prime Minister, also took the opportunity to visit some of the reconstruction sites and other activity undertaken by the DRA that included a walk-through of the Dome City, pausing to talk to residents there.

Minister Laroda was accompanied by Parliamentary Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister [Abaco] Mr. Kirk Cornish, and Parliamentary Secretary for the Ministry of Tourism, Investments and Aviation, Mr. John Pinder II. They were joined by Mr. Carl Smith, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction and officials from the National Emergency Management Agency, including NEMA Deputy Director, Mrs. Gayle Outten-Moncur, in addition to officials from the Disaster Reconstruction Authority [Abaco], and Local Government officials on the ground in Abaco.

State-Minister Laroda said of the Dome City: “Two years in, this is a situation that has to be given priority because the longer it goes on the worse it is going to get. There are issues there with the Domes. Some of them have no electricity, some of them have sewage issues where you can smell the stench coming up out of the ground, and they don’t seem to be secured. We visited the trailers where we saw evidence of locks being cut and persons helping themselves to the contents therein.

“The images of some of the things I have seen and the odors that I have smelled, I would have to be sub-human not to be moved by that and what is worse is seeing these things and not doing anything about it. When do we take care of those who are the most vulnerable of our society?” Minister Laroda added.

Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for the Ministry of Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction, the Hon. Myles Laroda inspects the self-help repairs conducted to the Public (Government) Dock by residents of the commercial fishing community of Moore’s Island in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian. Locals said they had to use reclaimed wood and nails to shore up the dock in order for activity to continue. Pictured (in the foreground) with State-Minister Laroda is Administrator, Mr. Donald Rolle. (BIS