It will take more than the $8 million Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced the government would invest in Ragged Island to restore the storm-ravaged island, but at least one member of the Restoration Ragged Island Association said it’s a start to finally get that island livable again.
Dr. Locksley Munroe, a member of the association’s technical committee, said it would take closer to $11 million to return the island to its former state.
“That $8 million is a good start. When we had estimated it came to something like $11 million, but that was just for some fundamental things,” Munroe said in an interview with Guardian Business.
The fewer than 60 residents that remain on Ragged Island after Hurricane Irma ravaged it in 2017 have been living in sub-standard conditions.
“They refuse to allow us to put the water on there, our system still doesn’t work the way it ought to so there is no consistency with the water. Certainly, as far as electricity is concerned, that is not available like that. So, in terms of the living conditions since 2017 it really is really primitive,” Munroe said.
“The money that he is talking about investing, in my mind I’m thinking that a fair portion of that is going to be to try and make acceptable living accommodations for the people who would be going there.”
In a national televised address on Monday, Minnis said the investment would cover the costs to reconstruct public infrastructure including a school and teacher’s duplex at a cost of $2 million; a new clinic at $2.5 million; an administrator’s office, post office and court room at a cost of $2.5 million; and the construction of a police station and accommodations for officers at a cost of $1 million.
Munroe questioned how the government intends to help the residents whose private homes were destroyed.
“If you listen to what he said, he was speaking to more public and administrative things rather than private things,” he said.
“I am happy that he made the pledge again because now that is twice he is saying something… I listened to the whole thing last night because that’s where my heart is, Ragged Island.”
In the meantime, Munroe said he – a native Ragged Islander – and other committee members are prepared to spearhead improvements on the island, if they aren’t blocked by the government.
“There are a number of opportunities for Ragged Island and it is the dream of the committee that we have a waste water management system, where we can recycle water, that we can have farming land to use for irrigation, there should be a plan to improve the airport and terminal building there,” he said.
“There are a number of progressive ideas the committee has, as simple as getting water for the folks down there.”