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Some Ragged Islanders skeptical of PM’s restoration pledge

Some Ragged Island residents said yesterday they are skeptical of Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis’ announcement that the government will invest $8 million to restore public facilities on the storm torn island.

Ragged Island was devastated by Hurricane Irma in September 2017 and has been without essential public buildings ever since.

The damage was so extensive that the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) deemed the island “uninhabitable”.

Terrence Wallace, 55, who was born and raised on Ragged Island, said he doesn’t believe the prime minister is sincere with his announcement.

“It’s going on two years now,” Wallace said.

“They only talking. They only talk for the people to hear and that’s about it.”

While noting that he is happy to see the restoration of the island, Wallace said it feels as though Minnis has forgotten the people of Ragged Island.

“We [are] living without the basics, but still he’s supposed to do what he’s supposed to do,” he said.

“There ain’t no clinic. There ain’t no police station, no administration building, no school. That means he ain’t checking. If he’s the prime minister and he had a heart he would’ve looked out for the people right?”

Rochelle Maycock, 33, a mother of two, has been a resident of Ragged Island for 13 years.

Maycock said she is ecstatic by the prime minister’s announcement because it means that she will no longer have to live on a different island from her  15-year-old son, who was sent to live in Nassau to attend school.

“They really need to do something for the people of Ragged Island because we are Bahamians like everybody else,” she said.

“Look how long we suffered without this stuff, how long we ain’t had it. It’s going onto about two years now. We have no nurse, no school, nothing. People have children and some people are separated from their kids.”

Maycock said she hopes the government can at least restore the school before the commencement of the 2019/2020 school year in September.

Lester Wallace Jr., 26, who has lived on the island since he was eight months old, said Ragged Island looks like the setting of a dystopian novel.

“There are no kids in the community,” Wallace said.

“Not being able to see kids around, it feels like the community has no future and no growth. Without the clinic and the police station, it’s very devastating because if something happens to someone it may cost $3,500 to $5,000 to charter a flight in here.

“If anything happens without the police there’s really no law enforcement.”

Wallace said while he is happy the government is investing in the island, he is still upset that it took so long.

“I’m not happy to hear that it took two years,” he said.

“I think it could’ve come sooner but I’m very happy to hear that it’s coming. My thing now is that I would now like to see it done because you can talk whatever you want to talk but until action happens, I have no faith in you.”

On Monday, during his third national address for 2019, Minnis announced that his government will invest $8 million to restore public infrastructure on Ragged Island.

He said $2 million will be designated for the construction of a school and teacher’s duplex; $2.5 million for the construction of an administrator’s office, post office and court room; $1 million for the construction of a police station and accommodations for offices and $2.5 million for the construction of a new clinic.

Staff Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues.
Education: Goldsmith, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice
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