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For some, a struggle to meet basic needs and abide by stay-at-home orders

As he pumped water into a bucket at a government pump drenched in sweat yesterday, Chaffy Joseph Bowleg, 34, of Windsor Lane, said he had no other means of getting water for him and his family and had to be outside despite a seven-day lockdown that had been announced on Monday night by Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis.

Bowleg had over a dozen gallon bottles of water to take home.

“It’s just to bathe, wash off dishes and clean up,” he said. “I will take them on foot. I don’t have anyone to help me.”

While most New Providence residents have indoor plumbing, others like Bowleg have to decide whether to obey stay-at-home orders, or go to the neighborhood pump for water to meet basic needs.

Yesterday evening, Minnis reversed course in the face of strong pushback to his original announcement, made to help arrest the spread of COVID-19 on New Providence.

The prime minister said that starting today, grocery stores, pharmacies, water depots, gas stations and hardware stores will be allowed to open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. until further notice. 

Earlier in the day, others described challenges they were facing in adhering to the previous announcement as they did not have time to prepare.

Barry Williams, 52, of Faith Avenue, who spoke with The Nassau Guardian on Market Street, said he walked from Faith Avenue to get food for his father.

Barry Williams speaks with The Nassau Guardian near Ross Corner off Market Street yesterday.

“I live in Carmichael with my daddy. He has no feet. Coming down, I got stopped. I don’t have a ride because they stopped the bus [from running]. It’s hard to get around,” he said, adding that he was headed to his sister’s house.

Williams said he was struggling to make sure his father has food to survive, but he is unemployed.

He said he usually makes a living from washing cars near a police station.

“They told me, ‘Barry it’s a lockdown. You have to stay inside.’”

Williams cried out, “I need me a job.”

He said it is mandatory for him to be out during the lockdown to survive.

“I have to be out. The police know me. They know I walk from Faith Avenue to Quakoo Street, sometimes Nassau Street. You know with the lockdown now, they trying to lock me up,” he said.

“I’m just trying to make a dollar or two. I just want to make something to carry home; a potato chip and juice.”

Marisha Dean, 15, of Windsor Lane, sat on a wooden chair with her father, observing the neighbors as they roamed the streets. She said after her mother died during the pandemic, her life became difficult.

“Things started to get really hard for us. My mom died on May 4. The hospital treated her for the wrong condition. If they scanned her when they were supposed to, maybe that would have solved the problem,” she said.

“I hope she rests peacefully.”

Battling her mother’s sudden death, Dean said it is a day-to-day struggle to find food to eat.

“We called the food distribution place. They said they [were] coming, but they never came,” she said.

“When we call 311 (the emergency number during the lockdown), it just rings. The minute they picked up, they sucked their teeth. You can’t do that to people; that’s inhumane.”

Given that the prime minister’s announcement of the lockdown had taken immediate effect on Monday night, Dean said with little to no time to prepare for the lockdown, she felt left out.

“We don’t have it all, but we are still trying,” she said. “He could have shut the country down on Thursday after we went shopping on Wednesday. That wouldn’t be any problem.”

The prime minister said yesterday he will advise on details as it relates to the lockdown for New Providence when he addresses the nation later this week.

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Italia Clarke

Italia Clarke joined the Nassau Guardian in August 2020. Clarke covers national, human interest and social issues. Education: University of The Bahamas, BA in Media Journalism

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