Bahamas Christian Council President Bishop Delton Fernander said yesterday that the red tape involved with getting hurricane aid to victims has been a challenge for the council.
He said he hopes that the newly announced Ministry of Disaster Preparedness, Recovery and Reconstruction functions well for the sake of the thousands of Bahamians impacted by Hurricane Dorian.
“I’m looking forward to it working because our people need everything we try to work,” he said.
He added, “I think this is a learning curve, and we have, in an effort to be very careful, turned back some aid. Those who are outside our borders do not know about bureaucracy. They do not know. They just put things in containers and ship them, and they ship them to destinations with a hope that churches will go and collect them.
“Initially, there was some turning back of vessels, which was very costly. Initially, stuff was sitting on docks for long times – they could not be cleared because there weren’t manifests to show. All of these were genuine concerns in light of what is taking place worldwide, but once we are able to verify, once we were able to tell our partners what to do on their end, those things were rectified, and I think we’ve fostered a partnership [with the government] that this won’t happen again.”
Central Grand Bahama MP Iram Lewis, has been appointed minister of state in the Ministry of Disaster Preparedness, Recovery and Reconstruction.
The ministry will have an authority that will have an executive director and a board of directors that will oversee the redevelopment of the impacted islands, according to the prime minister.
Fernander said despite some of the hiccups over the past 18 days, the work of the church continues as the council tries to bring relief to their communities, particularly Abaco where the majority of churches were destroyed.
“They know what we can do,” he said.
“I think in this administration, as it is with most of the people in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, they don’t know what faith-based [organizations] can do.
“…We don’t always wear the cross. We don’t always walk around with chains. We just roll up our sleeves and get to work.”