The effects of Hurricane Dorian have shown that Marsh Harbour needs to be shifted inland and placed on higher ground, Minister of State in the Ministry of Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction Iram Lewis told the media yesterday, adding that the buildings at Marsh Harbour’s docks are right now being demolished and will be moved farther from the coast.
Lewis, who spoke to the media after addressing a workshop on recovery policy, recovery planning and institutional arrangements for implementation, at the Securities Commission of The Bahamas’ training room, said Dorian has taught this country how it needs to build on the coast and in low-lying areas in the age of climate change.
“You must shift the town center of Marsh Harbour more inland,” Lewis said.
“With respect to the Marsh Harbour dock itself, based on the fact that the terminal buildings, the international, domestic and administrative buildings on the harbor itself are too close to the coast, they are now actively being demolished as we speak.
“We will not put those buildings back in the same location, we will push those away from the sea front and allow us more apron and working space at the harbor itself and put those in a more elevated area.”
Lewis explained that because most of the properties in Marsh Harbour are privately owned, the government will have to work very closely with the private sector to ensure that the area is built back in a sustainable manner.
“Marsh Harbour is a special area in that most of the properties are privately owned,” he said.
“If it was government Crown land, if it was a government subdivision, we would just go out there and do as we please, but we must have meetings with all the necessary stakeholders, most of them being private citizens.
“So the discussions must be had with private property owners, so that they will all be in agreement.”
Jeremy Collymore representing the University of the West Indies at the workshop, said The Bahamas and the rest of the Caribbean now has to address things like hurricanes differently, especially focusing on proactive approaches to disaster protocols.
“We have to address threats in a very direct and confrontational way,” Collymore said. “In the case of recovery, despite the numerous events we have had, recovery is still very much a reactive exercise.”
Lewis said during his address to the workshop that The Bahamas’ building code will also be fortified and more stringently enforced, as Dorian revealed that loopholes exist in inspection protocols.
He admitted that the Ministry of Public Works lacks the resources to carry out these inspections alone and the government will look to professional architects, contractors and engineers to assist with enforcement.