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Abaco residents struggle with high cost of living

MARSH HARBOUR, Abaco – Churton Toote is worried about the high cost of living on Abaco.

Toote, 67, an Abaco native since the 1980s, said the price of items in the grocery stores on Abaco is nearly double that of food stores on New Providence.

“Compared to Nassau, the cost of living is high,” Toote said.

“It’s real high here. A tin of cream in Nassau would cost – I’m only exaggerating some now – a tin in Nassau costs 50 cents and over here it costs $1.”

Asked if Abaco residents struggle with the high prices, Toote said, “No, because Abaco people rely on fishing. That’s where most of them make their living, on fishing.

“So while it may be hard to find a job and pay for things in Nassau, we don’t necessarily have that issue.”

Abaco’s economy is doing well by all accounts. According to data from the Ministry of Tourism, in 2018, Abaco had the greatest overall tourist arrivals among the Family Islands.

The data showed that there were 437,825 foreign air and sea arrivals.

Rafael Pitt, 27, works as a ramp agent at the Leonard M. Thompson International Airport in Marsh Harbour, Abaco.

He said most residents of the island are challenged with finding a place to live because the number of available apartments are limited.

“Finding a place to live is very challenging because the population is small and the island is very big,” he said.

“Everybody is coming over every day and they are getting jobs but there’s nowhere to rest their heads.

“People now are paying for apartments that ain’t even finished yet. They are expensive. Some apartments are like $900 per month, some are $1,250 and some you’d get only a one bedroom and sometimes you get two bedrooms and one bath.

“The price of living over here is very high. It’s very high, but I don’t feel the effects that much because I don’t have any kids and I have a job.”

Rockling Boodle, 47, a taxi driver living in Murphy Town, Abaco, called on the government to lower the prices of gas on the Family Islands.

He said he spends a lot of money on gas each week because of his profession.

“The gas prices, I think, are a little high here,” Boodle said.

“We can do better, at least the government can, because we pay a lot of taxes on the gas. The government controls gas and if it brings it down, it would be cheaper.”

Asked how much gas is on the island, Boodle said, “It’s now to $5 or something. It was a little lower. It was $4 but it just raised a week or two ago.”

In September 2018, the Central Bank of The Bahamas released its Quarterly Economic Review which showed a 1.2 percent increase in the average Retail Price Index, surpassing the modest 0.5 percent increase for the same period in 2017.

This data reflects the period just before the increase in value-added tax, which was implemented on July 1.

Due to rising oil prices globally, the cost of electricity increased two percent, while the average cost of gasoline and diesel fuel increased by 8.5 percent and 12.7 percent respectively.

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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