Central and South Eleuthera MP Hank Johnson said yesterday that Family Islanders have been neglected by successive governments for too long.
“Why are we treating the Family Islanders the way we are treating them?” he asked during his contribution to the 2020/2021 budget debate.
“Family Islanders are Bahamians as well, no matter what island; they deserve to be treated with the same respect and dignity as anywhere else in this country.
“I have a problem with the way that they are treated. We are neglected on many occasions.”
Johnson said the local government system on those islands is flawed.
“The people in the Family Islands need to be cared for and looked after better than they are,” he said.
“That local government system, they hire you today and fire you tomorrow. And you carry nothing home, Mr. Speaker.
“Mr. Speaker, the implementation of that system did not work. There are some errors in there that need to be corrected.”
Johnson said the issue is not a new one with the Minnis administration but has been going on for years now, and it must end.
He pointed to a number of deficiencies in his constituency, noting that the promised mini-hospital is especially overdue.
“The island of Eleuthera today, from last year June until the present, we have had 132 emergency flights out of Eleuthera to New Providence, which has cost the government around $433,900,” he said.
“Mr. Speaker, out of that figure, 57 of those persons are deceased. That’s just from the south. I am appealing to my government today. Build a new hospital. It’s overdue. Eleuthera has now reached the stage where we need a medical facility – no ifs, ands or buts. We need that medical facility to save lives.”
At several points in his speech, Johnson begged the government to do what it can for his people.
Johnson also called for easier access to Crown land for locals, and improvement to schools, roads, the Rock Sound airport and other infrastructure.
“Eleuthera has been left out of the equation for many years,” he said.
“But the time has come. Eleuthera now needs to be looked upon and recognized.”
Johnson also expressed his frustration over government workers who do not perform their jobs well.
“I am of the view that we need a shakeup in the government system in this country,” he said.
“Many of them didn’t have an interest in this country, though. They worry about the 28th of every month. Some may not like what I say, but it’s a fact. Do we want a better country? Let’s begin to do it right.
“This has been going on for time. And their attitudes get worse. And one of the worst things in the world is some of them in the government departments have such bad attitudes.”
Johnson highlighted issues at Lynden Pindling International Airport during the holidays in particular.
“What happens in that airport?” he said.
“Do we have people sitting in those chairs who continue to run the department who cannot get it right after 30 years and all the flights are delayed?”
He added, “I say this. If it’s my mother, if she is sitting in the chair and she is not performing, then she needs to move. We cannot continue to allow this country to go down the pipe because of our friends and who they may be. We need a progressive country. The world is changing, and The Bahamas has got to change with the world.”