The time is upon us to rise up from this state of paralysis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and set a plan of action in motion to restore the health of the economy of our glorious Bahamas. Here are some ideas the government should consider:
• Businesses need to get back to normal as soon as possible. If mass testing is considered the answer, then determine how corporate citizens could participate in the exercise to purchase necessary equipment and supplies to have their employees tested, so that they can open their doors as soon as possible.
If the cost of testing is within reach, each company could cover the cost of testing employees. If the cost is substantial, then the employees could share in the cost and reimburse the company over a period of time, for example, a 12-month period. Employees consider it just as important for them to return to their jobs as their bosses consider it vital to save their businesses.
• Employ a number of our citizens in a massive cleanup of our country, particularly New Providence. It would be good if we are able to emancipate New Providence from the filth that exists by August 2, 2021.
The goal is to make The Bahamas the cleanest country on God’s green earth!
Redo the airport landscaping with a “wonder-of-the-world” transformation.
We could use 75 species of bougainvillea to create an array of colors. These plants don’t need a lot of water to be maintained, and we have an abundance of fresh ground water at the airport.
Repeat similar exercises at all government facilities. The slogan may read: “For the enjoyment of our visitors, the pride of our people and the glory of God.”
• Restore and re-occupy all dilapidated government buildings, resulting in reduced rent bill.
• With modern wood work machines we can, particularly in the Family Islands, build furniture.
Materials can be sourced from local wood such as madeira, horse flesh, lignum vitae, etc. In many of the southern islands we have many school buildings and teachers’ quarters sitting idle that can be used. For example, on Long Island, there are at least six.
• With modern masonry equipment, we can produce high quality stone tiles.
The southern islands have an excellent quality of stones. These islands have an abundance of stones that can be utilized in the construction of residences. We need to get our structural engineers to focus on what we have naturally.
• Modern garment equipment – clothing making and straw work, including sisal – can also be vital, on southern Family Islands in particular.
Implement an annual straw work expo where retailers from the straw market could go to purchase products wholesale; no need to import from China.
• Food security – we must move post-haste to feed ourselves to the furthest extent possible. We have done this before!
For seafood, there is no challenge, except for poachers.
Andros, Grand Bahama and Abaco can produce the fruits and vegetables. Southern islands can produce enough mutton for local consumption, but land reform is required. There is an abundance of animal feed growing naturally.
• Land reform – We must solve the generation land situation. Land is generally considered the basis of all wealth, so we must see that the generations are able to divide their land amongst their members. On the southern islands in particular, there exists vast acreage sitting idle.
The islands can be zoned; where there is fresh water-bearing land, it should be, for the most part, for the farming of fruits and vegetables.
• Regularize and legalize the production of alcoholic drinks. Alcohol can be produced from corn, watermelon, sea grapes, pigeon plums, etc. It would be immensely enjoyed by tourists and natives alike, but standards need to be in place.
• We have many salt water ponds. With necessary science, we can explore aquaculture in these pristine locations.
• We can improve our soil by mulching and composting. Gardening should be part of school curriculums. There are some schools with small gardening programs, but in light of the pandemic, they must become a vital part of the curriculum to ensure the future of self sufficiency for the country.
We can then set a timetable for us to get up to speed in our food production and then to gradually close the door on imported food supplies, especially considering that billions are spent on imports each year. Let’s introduce a “we eat what we produce” regime.
• Develop a national diet program, and all fast food operators must be guided by it. The idea here is an effort to get all our citizens to a state of good health. Additionally, each island could have a specialty dish, which helps with defining its identity and that of the island’s inhabitants.
• The time is nigh that we start the process of preparing our people for greater autonomy in the Family Islands leading to island states within The Commonwealth of The Bahamas.
The first steps in this regard would be to create a master layout of each Family Island so that development can take place in an orderly fashion. Some action can start now – such as beautification and planting trees along the roadside.
The local government on each Family Island could develop an agenda with a timetable of its forward movement. This agenda may be tweaked and adjusted as the circumstances dictate, but would remain constant in its principal objective, regardless of the political make up of the local government body.
We are faced with no choice but to lean on the tenets which we believe as a people – to move “Forward, Upward and Onward, Together”.
— A voice from Folly Bay, Long Island