RBDF chief: We’re not focused on the criticisms right now

As the Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) continued to face criticisms about its response to Hurricane Dorian, RBDF Commodore Tellis Bethel said yesterday his troops are more focused on getting supplies to storm victims.

“Basically, every country has its own limitations and so the best thing to do is you draw on the resources of your partners and so that’s exactly what is happening,” Bethel said.

“We’re drawing on the resources of not only our CARICOM partners but also our U.S. partners. We’re not focused on the criticisms right now.

“We know what our capabilities are. We know what the needs are, and so we’ve made the necessary adjustments to get the assistance we need.”

He said the defence force will continue to undergo crisis management training.

Asked about the RBDF’s main concern in the wake of the storm, the commodore said, “The main concern is making sure that we get supplies to people in need.”

The criticisms came after some residents of the impacted islands used their private boats, cars and other vehicles to carry out search and rescue operations.

On September 3, one person posted on Facebook, “The defense force team still [has] to charter commercial small planes in 2019.

“Hurricane volunteer groups [are] contacting regular citizens for ribbed boats and jet skis all through the night. The same citizens who [are] getting mashed down in this economy and barely trying to survive. ‘Fellas’ in Pinewood playing on their jet ski racing in the road drinking beers and the defense force and BASRA ain’t gat none? We are not real.”

One day later, another person posted, “The next time a hurricane threatens the lives of Bahamians let’s use our airline to evacuate our people for free. We spent millions on RBDF boats; use them too! It’s our resources, use them for us in times of emergency.”

The government said it has already deployed more than 900 law enforcement officers to Abaco and Grand Bahama in the wake of Dorian.

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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