Dog days of summer

The dog days of summer, that period between early July and September, are upon us and living up to their ancient reputation.

They have, this year, especially in the Northern Hemisphere, predictably brought heat, drought, wildfires and thunderstorms across Western Europe and North America; only, this year, all appears amplified.

As a result, hundreds have lost their lives and thousands have lost their homes, businesses and livelihoods.

Storm-weary Bahamians are anxiously counting the days left to what has been predicted to become an active Atlantic hurricane season.

Torrential rains in June and continuing this month have threateningly caused inundations in some areas here on New Providence not previously given to flooding.

Restless trade unionists are protesting stagnant wages and businesses lament less than stellar business profits.

Members of the public are weary of stealth increases in taxes and violent crime continues to shadow life.

But the dog days of summer are, as usual, also being marked by vacation breaks – meaning increased outdoor fun, picnics, swimming, homecoming festivities, regattas and local and international travel.

Relaxed COVID-19 health protocols defy the persistence of the pandemic.

The Junkanoo Summer Festival is in high gear. Related activities, based at the Fish Fry at Arawak Cay, are in full swing.

The number of parked vehicles lining both sides of West Bay Street and crammed into every conceivable space last Saturday evening by attendees at the festivities belie our high unemployment numbers, increased gas prices, now thankfully slowly reducing, and the challenge presented by inflation and persistent high prices at the food stores.

The government’s anti-COVID-19 policy has been less than enthusiastic since its election to office last September as it is giving priority to reopening the economy.

The emergence of less lethal, if more contagious, strains of the disease, in recent months, has facilitated the government following that strategy.

It was telling, therefore, that the prime minister, who has kept up a hectic international travel itinerary in recent weeks, joined the minister of health at Lynden Pindling International Airport over the weekend to receive the first shipment of donated pre-adolescent COVID-19 vaccines for children ages five through 11, gifted to The Bahamas by the government of France.

Additional doses of the pre-adolescent vaccine were reportedly acquired by the minister of health in June while in attendance at the World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland.

The rollout of the pre-adolescent vaccines is scheduled to commence this week. The successful rollout is essential to protect vulnerable children from new COVID-19 infections that could result in further disruption of school attendance, a development which The Bahamas can ill afford given the alarming statistics coming out of the Ministry of Education about the number of Bahamian students who have already lost two years of learning, due to the pandemic, and the thousands more who have dropped out of school completely.

Migrant tragedy at sea

Seventeen Haitian nationals lost their lives in the early morning hours of Sunday when the boat on which they were traveling capsized off the northern coast of New Providence. An additional 25 people are reported to have been rescued and were being processed by authorities.

This tragedy is the latest in a long list of similar tragedies in which countless Haitian migrants risk all, traveling on dangerously overcrowded and unsafe vessels, to escape debilitating poverty and crime in their home country.

Shockingly, what would have been the last leg of this journey appears to have started in The Bahamas.

The ill-fated vessel reportedly departed from a dock located along the heavily populated and frequented portion of West Bay Street not far from the site of the Fish Fry on Arawak Cay and just one property away from the residence of the US Marine Security Detail attached to the US Embassy in Nassau.

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