Bright spots in the dark

The Minnis administration has had a difficult time taking on the mantle of government. Reluctant to seek or take advice, the prime minister’s tenure thus far has been affected by missteps and unforced errors.

Still, there are a few important successes deserving of recognition.

The loud protests over poor service at the Passport Office this summer have quietly disappeared. Reduced complaints are partially a factor of reduced demand with the end of the summer rush, but also reflective of improved processes.

Reports reaching us suggest that the conflicting and duplicative requirements for processing applications for the new biometric passports have disappeared together with the delays in receiving new passports.

Reportedly, recent applicants have received passports within seven days of application — without having to pay the much-resented $200 fee for rushed service. And, replacement passports for those lost during Hurricane Dorian are also being expedited.

The minister responsible and his chief passport officer and her staff are to be commended for addressing the roadblocks preventing them from providing the level of service expected and deserved by the general public.

After months of complaints about irregular collection of solid waste in residential neighborhoods, regular collections have been scheduled to the great satisfaction of New Providence residents.

More significantly, the transfer of the management of the New Providence Landfill from the public sector to the wholly Bahamian-owned private company, Providence Advisors and Waste Resources Development Group, is showing measurable success.

The group, selected following a public call for bids, signed a contract to manage the “deconstruction, remediation and operation” of the landfill in February and assumed control of the site in April with a goal “to eradicate the occurrence of fires at the dump”.

Our reporter, accompanying the minister of the Environment and Housing, Romauld Ferreira, on a recent tour of the facility, described the site as “a clearly organized and clean operation…” with “no noticeable smell and no flies”.

While the project manager admitted to a number of small fires at the facility, none has escalated into the large fires that previously plagued the landfill. The acquisition of a rapid attack fire truck and scheduled weekly fire drills for site staff no doubt account for success on that front.

This is especially good news for the residential subdivisions near the landfill which suffered through periodic fire and smoke damage from the uncontrolled fires there.

Member of Parliament for Tall Pines Don Saunders, in whose constituency the landfill is located, has voiced his satisfaction that many of his constituents will benefit not just from the improved environmental conditions in the area but also from potential increased economic value of their properties.

We look forward to the continuing transformation of the previously smelly fire hazard into what promises to be a welcoming New Providence Ecological Park.

The Minnis government’s selection of the Global Port Holdings Group (GPHG) as redevelopers and managers of Prince George Dock was welcomed news this past July.

Tenants of the facility have expressed satisfaction with GPHG’s initial efforts to improve the experience at Festival Place for vendors, taxi drivers and visitors.

The group’s projected investment of some $250 million is expected to stimulate other investment in the area, increase opportunities for Bahamian ownership in another major public infrastructure installation and help in growing jobs and the economy.

And, notwithstanding the controversy that surrounded the move of the General Post Office from its dilapidated and non-functioning premises on West Hill Street to the Town Centre Mall, the Minnis administration must be commended for making the hard decision to provide a safe, healthy environment for post office workers.

This has in turn permitted what had become a fully dysfunctional Bahamian postal system to begin a long walk into the 21st century. Additional wins can be had if the postal service acts now to increase efficiencies and reduce costs in its operations.

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