Wednesday, Jun 19, 2019
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Problems in Mangrove Cay

Dear Editor,

I am writing from Mangrove Cay, Andros, where I have lived for the last 15 years. Clearly, we are going backwards, and I think this can be said for The Bahamas, in general.

I have just returned home from the NIB office to pay my NIB contribution. We have two days a week when the office is open. The door was locked. No sign on the door. Nothing. It is an eight-mile round trip to get there for me. I came home and went online to file a complaint with NIB. Here is an excerpt from their website, today May 23, 2019.

“PUBLIC NOTICE – Continued Service Level Disruptions and NIB Offices Closure. The National Insurance board wishes to advise the public that service levels will be further impacted today throughout New Providence and the Family Islands due to significant staff absences.

Family Island offices will also be impacted and further updates on and pension payments will be made throughout the day.”

My guess is that not more than two persons on Mangrove Cay are aware of this notice.

I left there and went to pay my BPL electric bill. A sign on the door said, “So sorry. Be back shortly.” This, after having visited this office three different times this week, only to be told that the “system is down” and she couldn’t even accept my cash payment. Again, an eight-mile round trip to get there for me.

I then stopped by Bank of Bahamas, where we also have two-day a week service. It was pure mayhem. A few dozen people crowded into the small room, waiting. The senior citizen line, one of only two lines in total, was packed full of people. I am guessing the wait will be two or three hours to get served, as it often is for we customers. This has been going on for years now, with no improvement in sight. I suppose we should be thanking God that we even have a bank here, hey?

Last week, BTC completely crashed here on Mangrove Cay. No Internet, or cell phone service. Perhaps one call out of 20 would go through. People were telling me they were trying to call me, but the call went straight to voicemail.

I have at least seven years of documented complaints to BTC about its terrible service, all the while BTC managers continue to mislead us and tell us it will be getting better “this” month. This has gone on for years now, and BTC continues to collect “in full” for service it has not provided.

They have misled us for years, the managers telling us we would get a mass refund and that service would improve. It has not improved. We have received no refunds, or credit, or apologies. Not a peep from BTC upper management or URCA on this matter. BTC has failed us. URCA has failed us. BTC, as it presently exists, should not be given the luxury of making money in The Bahamas. It has failed us.

It is beyond belief that in 2019 we are still suffering such indignities as these. The losses in time, productivity and direct monetary costs are huge, almost to the point of being incalculable. The closures of business, the loss of employee productivity, the costs of additional transportation, the cost to management, are off the chain.

We have a useless MP, Picewell Forbes, who only visits the island for a photo opportunity or some silly awards banquet. Our community here would be much better served by being allowed to have his generous salary and ample expense and office funds to be put to use directly on community projects, instead of going into his pocket. Someone recently put a “Wanted – Missing Person” poster up, with his name on it, as a joke. But, it was no joke to those of us suffering under his poor, non-existent so-called “representation”. I can not find one person on this island who is satisfied with his performance. Not one.

Our clinic is in a state of unfinished shambles. The clinic is presently being operated in a dismal building not even fit for a dirty restroom. We have no doctor. The nurses are despondent about this situation, after having been promised a renovated clinic, years ago now. Years ago. Unacceptable and disgraceful.

For more than 15 years we have been promised to be a port of entry. When the FNM was elected we were told to “forget about that”.

Our community dock is a disgrace, turning to mud in a light rain. The channel used by our mailboats is not navigable at low tide.

Our schools have broken windows, little maintenance and are always short of funding. The police do not have a police car. They use their own vehicles to get around the island. We have no ambulance, no fire engine, no morgue. Nothing.

Our water pipes are bursting on a weekly basis.

Many of us here are taking the initiative to do our best to improve Mangrove Cay. However, there is little doubt that the government of The Bahamas has completely, unequivocally failed us here.

Without even a modicum of investment in our island, how do Minnis and the other government officials expect for us to do better? How do they expect us to develop our economy, encourage more tourists to come, develop industries, get our young people back home? Under these conditions, it is nearly impossible.

The problem, it seems, is that Bahamians have gotten so used to their terrible treatment at the hands of their own government that they have lost the will and the energy to fight back. Political victimization has also helped create this situation of national helplessness.

Is this really the best we can do?

– Norman Trabulsy Jr.

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