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Wells unmoved by PLP post office threats

Minister of Transport and Local Government Renward Wells yesterday dared the opposition to move forward with legal action against the government in relation to a decision to move the General Post Office, noting that he doubts the courts will contradict Parliament.

“Well, you know, they can go to the courts,” Wells told reporters outside Cabinet.

“I am not a lawyer. I’m not a lawyer. I don’t know what the courts would say, but I do believe that there’s a separation of powers in The Bahamas.”

He added, “It’s going to be interesting to see what the court does because the courts typically stay out of the business of the Parliament. The Parliament is a separate branch of government and misleading Parliament is a parliamentary – quote on quote – issue. 

“And none of us, none of us believe that the prime minister misled the Parliament and we’ve already had that debate. We went through that on Wednesday.

“And to use a term that the PLP used to say, ‘So said, so done.’”

The Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) has maintained that Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis misled the House of Assembly last year when the government sought its approval to lease the Town Centre Mall – which is partially owned by Brent Symonette, who was a Cabinet minister at the time – for the relocation of the General Post Office.

The October 2018 resolution stated that Symonette had no involvement in the discussions on the lease decision, but Symonette revealed earlier this year that he and the prime minister had discussed the matter directly, including how much the rent will be.

On Sunday, PLP Leader Philip Brave Davis said the opposition has given instructions to Alfred Sears, QC, a former attorney general, to explore the “possibility” of legal action.

“We have provided him with the Hansard of the complete proceedings and I think that is now still under the review,” Davis said.

On May 23, the General Post Office officially relocated to the Town Centre Mall from its former East Hill Street location.

The move came after years of employees complaining about substandard conditions which they claimed impacted their health and safety.

In November 2017, nearly 100 employees protested conditions at the “rat and mold-infested” facility.

Nearly six months after the relocation, Wells said yesterday that The Bahamas did well on a recent audit as a result of the move.

“I am happy to report to the people of The Bahamas that their post office passed the United Postal Union’s audit this past week, this Friday,” he said.

“And it was as a direct result of the fact that we moved our employees from that dilapidated structure on East Hill Street. So, those folks can say whatever they want to say and do whatever it is they want to do.

“As I said in the House of Assembly, the proof of the pudding is in the eating and it’s been eaten and the results [are] that The Bahamas’ post office is where it ought to be. And so, we’re looking forward to the final audit in January. The auditors were here and they gave us rave reviews. They gave our procedures rave reviews.”

 

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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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