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BAHAMAS: Ministry of Works Holds Educational Lectures During Lunch Breaks



#Nassau, October 15, 2018 – Bahamas – Lunch breaks are typically used for grabbing a bite, collecting kids from school or socializing with colleagues but for the past several months the staff at the Ministry of Public Works (MOPW) have swapped traditional lunch activities to hone in on lectures on a broad array of stimulating subject areas.

Since March, each Thursday, the Ministry has created a forum where outstanding speakers present their views during a Distinguished Lecture Series.  The 30 to 45-minute presentation sessions organized by staff are facilitated in an informal setting in the Conference Room.

Melanie Roach, Director, said the lecture series was established to present specific and general knowledge applicable to all sections. She said the information is provided for everyone to enhance their knowledge base and productivity.

Since its launch, speakers have included employees and private sector representatives who have presented on topics of common interest including Potholes, Drainage, Hurricane Preparedness, Auditing Capital Projects, Road Maintenance and Traffic Management, the Hawk Pedestrian Crossing, and Good Design and Your Role.

“Knowledge is not static,” said Ms. Roach. “It’s continuing every day and every day you have new discoveries and technologies. It’s very important for the staff of Public Works to always be in a learning environment. Most of us would have graduated some 4, 10, 30 and 40 years ago. We can’t just rely on knowledge that was gained in school. We need to be able to share our experience as we do our jobs and learn from others.”

The Hon. Desmond Bannister, Minister, said the lecture series is about bringing the talented staff of the MOPW together and allowing them to have an appreciation for the purpose of the Ministry, the focus of the Ministry, what the staff does, where they can go with it, how far they can take it and how dynamic the Ministry really is.

“I’ve been sitting in and learning and learning a lot. This is a Ministry where you can learn something new every single day.  That focus has been provided by exemplary, outstanding staff members who I am really proud to say that I work with; people who are tremendous leaders and who are coming into their own as outstanding leaders in this Ministry and in the community and country.

“The other aspect of it is very important as to putting people together so that staff appreciate — notwithstanding the diverse nature of their duties and the fact that every day they go off on their own different directions and seemingly focus on their own little projects — when you look at it from the perspective of an organization, it all comes together.

So you have the quantity surveyors working in one corner, you have the architects doing their thing, you have all these people doing diverse tasks and they don’t necessarily see that there is one big picture. It comes together beautifully in this Ministry when they work together.

“This series brings them together so they can appreciate the amazing things that they do. It is to a great extent unappreciated in our community because we don’t have a Ministry where there is boastfulness, where we provide the kind of public relations as we should, but the people in this Ministry do amazing work and if they didn’t do what they did every single day you would see this whole society just dropping down, falling apart.

“I think the series is going to get many of them to appreciate the scope of where they can go if they work towards achieving their potential.”

Antoinette Thompson, Permanent Secretary, said the Ministry is progressively looking to transform the way it does business by equipping staff with the required skills and competencies.

“The MOPW is minded to not only develop our staff professionally, technically and otherwise from an industry standards perspective, from a benchmarking perspective in the wider arena and in the wider public service, but we are also minded to empower — that relates to putting them in a position where they can embrace both challenges and opportunities to progress themselves professionally, personally and otherwise.

“This Distinguished Lecture Series is a testament to that because it allows for exposure, knowledge transfer, and it allows for knowledge acquisition,” said Ms. Thompson.

The lunchtime lecture series is growing and evolving. Feedback from staff is positive.

“When we started in this room there were just a few persons. We have to take it to Physical Planning [building across the street] because it’s expanding.  People are noticing and noticing more. It’s like a chain effect. The word is getting around,” said Nandi Maynard, a member of the organizing committee.

“People have a perception about the Public Service that there is a knowledge deficit, the people are unprofessional and you have to fight to survive. I won’t say it is a survival of the fittest but you have to equip yourself with the necessary knowledge and skills to survive and see your job through.

“From the administrative side, this is a whole new world to me. I would always see the job getting done, but I never understood the processes behind how all of it happened. This has afforded me the opportunity to gain exposure, to network and to just be informed.”

Elouise Fernander, Quantity Surveyor and committee member, said the series is helping to strengthen camaraderie in the Ministry.  “We get beat down in the Ministry. We are hard-working people but we don’t get a good report out there.”

Bahiyyah Hepburn, said the trend at the Ministry is to foster and environment of learning and growth.

“As one of the Assistant Engineers, I’m greatly benefiting from this. I’m interacting; not just understanding what’s going on in different sections, but learning about what’s going on in different Ministries. The most rounded civil servant is the civil servant who has interacted with the rest of the civil service.

“This is an environment for people who want to grow. In a multi-sector – a team of different backgrounds — when you are able to appreciate what the next person is doing you increase your efficiency,” added Ms. Hepburn.

Speakers are selected based on needs.

“We have architects and all the various disciplines of engineers.  We now have to start looking at administrative people.  This is a technical ministry but administration helps us to execute our jobs.”

She continued, “We’re literally the last line. We have to hold the line. As shaky as it seems that we’re not holding the line, we have to. We are it. When hurricanes come, we make sure emergency crews are out there and clear the road. We are it.

“We are public servants who are dedicated to the public safety of everybody in The Bahamas.  This lecture series reminds you of that. It reminds you who you’re working for, how important you are and what your role is. Sometimes you forget because you just do it,” said Ms. Hepburn.

By Kathryn Campbell

Release: BIS

Photo Captions: 

Header: The Hon. Desmond Bannister, Minister of Public Works; speaks to staff of the Ministry following a lecture.

First Insert: Senior Management in the Ministry of Public Works are pictured participating in a lecture. Shown from left: Antoinette Thompson, Acting Permanent Secretary; Minister Bannister; Robert Sweeting, presenter; Melanie Roach, Director.  Other staff of the Ministry are also shown.

Second Insert: Robert Sweeting,  makes a presentation on Project Hogfish, Bahamian Technology Think Tank during a recent lecture.

Third Insert: The Hon. Desmond Bannister presents Elouise Fernander, Senior Quantity Surveyor, with a gift for her role in the Distinguished Lecture Series.

Fourth Insert: Front row, l-r, seated: Melanie Roach, Director of Public Works; Hon. T. Desmond Bannister; Antoinette Thompson, Permanent Secretary (Acting); Emma Foulkes, Under Secretary.  Back row, l-r: Bahiyyah Hepburn, DLS Committee Member; Kristel Moss, DLS Committee Member; Damian Francis, Deputy Director of Public Works; Elouise Fernander, DLS Chairwoman; Nandi Maynard, DLS Committee Member; Jipcho Johnson, DLS Committee Member; Harrison Thompson, DLS Committee Member; Shakera Forbes, DLS Committee Member; Morey Evans, Director of Security; and Maegan Wilson, DLS Committee Member.


BIS Photos/Derek Smith




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Works Minister tours capital works projects in East Grand Bahama



#TheBahamas, October 26, 2021 – Minister of Public Works and Utilities, the Hon. Alfred Sears, on Thursday visited areas of East Grand Bahama on a familiarization tour.

Accompanied by Parliamentary Secretary Baccus Rolle and Director of Public Works Melanie Roach, the delegation was joined by Minister for Grand Bahama, the Hon. Ginger Moxey; Senator James Turner; Senator Kirk Russell; Permanent Secretary Harcourt Brown and Island Administrator Sharon Williams.

The delegation visited Water Cay and was able to examine the damaged dock; the design of the reconstructed dock has already been completed.  They visited McClean’s Town Clinic and toured Sweeting’s Cay where some buildings have been condemned, while others have been completed but need to be inspected.

After Sweeting’s Cay they viewed the damage done to the Sea Wall in High Rock. The proposed site for the comprehensive school for East Grand Bahama was also inspected.

It was at the dock in McClean’s Town that Minister Sears addressed the media. He said the purpose of the visit was to survey the capital works projects, and also get briefings from staff.

Minister remarked that it was indeed inspiring to see the generosity of international NGOs such as Core that contributed to the redevelopment and restoration of some of the infrastructure.

The Minister continued, “And of course [there’s] the University of The Bahamas where a lot of work has been done to the building and repurposing of the building to establish a center of research around sustainability and resilience.”

Minister Sears will meet with his staff on Friday morning and then complete his visit with a tour of capital works projects in Freeport and West Grand Bahama – viewing locations such as the Post Office, the Garnet Levarity Justice Centre, the Government Complex in Eight Mile Rock, the Junior High School and then on to West End to view the clinic.


By Robyn Adderley

Release: BIS


Photo Captions:

Header: A tour of Sweeting’s Cay was on the agenda for Minister of Public Works and Utilities, the Hon. Alfred Sears when he came to Grand Bahama on Thursday. While there, he was updated on the status of the school, administrator’s office, and had the chance to stop in and view the turtle pond.

1st insert: Another stop to examine capital works projects by Public Works Minister the Hon. Alfred Sears was Water Cay.  The design for the reconstruction of the damaged dock is already underway.

2nd insert: Minister of Public Works and Utilities, the Hon. Alfred Sears, accompanied by Parliamentary Secretary Baccus Rolle and other staff toured the University of The Bahamas Northern Campus on Thursday. 

MCCLEAN’S TOWN CLINIC – Minister of Public Works and Utilities, the Hon. Alfred Sears and Minister for Grand Bahama, the Hon. Ginger Moxey, toured McClean’s Town Clinic on Thursday as a part of the capital works tour.



(BIS Photos/Andrew Miller)

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Bahamas gets 57,330 doses of Pfizer vaccine to boost its COVID-19 Vaccination Programme



#TheBahamas, October 26, 2021 – The Bahamas received some 57,330 doses of Pfizer vaccine as the country continues to rollout the national vaccination pogramme against the COVID-19 virus.

The Minister of Health and Wellness the Hon. Dr Michael Darville was on hand to receive the latest tranche of vaccines, which arrived at the Lynden Pindling International Airport on Thursday, October 21, 2021.  Also present were health officials, and PAHO/WHO Country Representative Dr. Eldonna Boisson.

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) assisted The Bahamas in receiving the vaccines – the fourth batch — through the COVAX facility, which is a worldwide initiative aimed at equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, tests and therapies.

Dr. Darville on behalf of the Bahamian people thanked PAHO and all others, who were instrumental in the country getting the vaccines.  “These vaccines are absolutely essential for our vaccination programme and we have people throughout our Family Islands just waiting for the doses to arrive.

“We are pleased that they are here today and you will see very soon that we will bump up the amount of vaccinations at our various centres not only in New Providence and Grand Bahama but also throughout the Family Islands,” he said.

Dr. Darville explained that the vaccination teams would move “very quickly” because there are people at the various centres waiting to be inoculated with the Pfizer vaccine.

“The programme was scaled back a little bit because we needed to have the vaccines on ground. They are here. They will be stored effectively and you will begin to see even a greater rollout because the appetite and the demand for vaccines particularly Pfizer is definitely on the rise, and that is a good sign for us and we need to be able to adequately meet the demand with the supply” he said.

According to Dr. Darville, the rollout of this tranche of vaccines is expected as early as Friday (Oct 22).  And, this will be realized throughout the Family Islands mainly those where there are high incidences of COVID-19 cases.

“Thanks to PAHO and thanks to all of the other parties involved, we are actually early and that is a good sign for us,” he said, referring to the tentative date of November 1, 2021 rollout.

Added Dr. Darville, “It’s just the small logistics of getting the vaccines to the various locations because the people are very interested throughout the country to be vaccinated because they are finally understanding that [for] the individuals who are vaccinated, the chances of hospitalization if you get COVID is very low, and the chances of death if you get COVID is very low.

These are the things that we keep pushing and the Bahamian people are responding in a very positive way to the vaccines.”

Dr. Boisson said that PAHO/WHO was happy to have been able to assist with the delivery of these much-needed doses.

“We look forward to further assisting by facilitating the provision of more vaccines in the future through the PAHO Revolving Fund, to complement other vaccine supplies and donations,” she said.

Dr. Boisson credited The Bahamas for doing an excellent job of rapidly rolling out COVID-19 vaccines as they become available.

She noted though that the main challenge to the programme has been limited access to vaccines at times, which is because global demand continues to far exceed supply.

“However, here in The Bahamas you are fortunate to have three of the six WHO Emergency Use Listing (EUL) approved vaccines available to you, namely Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Janssen (or Johnson and Johnson).

“All these vaccines are safe and effective. They have all gone through the same stringent regulatory process in order to be granted WHO EUL approval. They all provide significant protection against severe illness and death,” she said.

Dr. Darville and the Dr. Boisson urged the public to get vaccinated, and also to follow the health safety protocols – wearing of masks, hand sanitizing, and social distancing.


By Lindsay Thompson

Release: BIS

Photo Caption: The Bahamas received 57,330 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which arrived at the Lynden Pindling International Airport on Thursday, October 21, 2021. Pictured from left are National Immunization Programme Manager Nurse Ruth Bastian; Colin Higgs, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health and Wellness; Dr. Pearl McMillan, Chief Medical Officer; PAHO/WHO Country Representative, Dr. Eldonna Boisson; Minister of Health and Wellness the Hon. Dr. Michael Darville; and Danny Davis, Co-Chair Ministry of Health and Wellness Vaccination Committee.

(BIS Photo/Kristaan Ingraham)


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Sia’s vegan creations win New Providence District round of 2021 Culinary Competition



#TheBahamas, October 26, 2021 – Sia Wright’s vegan dishes earned her the top spot in this year’s recent New Providence district round of the Bahamas Young Chef Culinary Senior Competition.

Participants in the 29th annual Young Chef Competition (New Providence) District are pictured in the Hospitality and Tourism Studies Food Laboratory at Anatol Rodgers Senior High School.

The 11th grade student of Akhepran International Academy who aspires to become a marine biologist and study mammals, entered the competition to challenge her creativity in the kitchen.

“I love the culinary arts,” said Sia. “It has been a passion of mine since I was about 5-years-old. I also think it is amazing to add a plant-based spin on classic Bahamian dishes.”

“My entire immediate family are all vegans.  My siblings and I have all been raised as vegans since birth. We have chosen this lifestyle to ensure [that] we are all healthy and enjoy a high quality of life.  Cooking is something that I enjoy. I look forward to creations featuring a savory dish – ‘Coconut Infused Lentil Brown Stew’ stuffed in a savory parcel topped with pan seared mushroom and mixed salad and a sweet dish – ‘Layered Guava Pudding topped with Chocolate Mousse.’

The contest sponsored by the Ministry of Education (MOE), Mahatma Rice and Robin Hood Flour, challenged the students to use any of the rice and flour products to prepare a dish and dessert based on the theme “Bahamian Culinary Resilience: Going Back to Our Roots.”

The line-up of winners in the 29th annual senior high school competition were:

Sia Wright, first place; Shandon Bain, second place (Kingsway Academy); Alisah Dixon, third place (Bahamas Academy); Kennia Smith, fourth place (C.C. Sweeting); Antwoine Rolle, fifth place (Anatol Rodgers); Dalexis Huyler, sixth place (Anatol Rodgers); Darius Fernander, seventh place (Doris Johnson) and Teanno Kelly, Doris Johnson; eighth place.

Chef Celeste Smith (3rd from left) critiques Kennia Smith’s dish as other judges look on.

The budding chefs concocted their dishes in the Hospitality and Tourism Studies Food Laboratory at Anatol Rodgers Senior High School under the watchful eyes of Chief Judge Gerald Rolle, Clement Williams, Jimmy Dean, Addiemae Farrington, Michael Rolle, and Hazel Rolle, Celeste Smith (pastry chefs).

Of Sia’s rice dish Chef Adderley said, “This impressed me because the flavors I got when I ate this — from the lentils … to the rice, to the mushrooms, this was 100%.

In Atlantis this would blow people away to see that someone this young can put on a plate something like this. This is what I expect to see from someone who has been cooking for 20 years.  He said Sia’s work showed a lot of preparation. “As a chef, you impressed me. [It was] very unique; what makes food different is presentation, uniqueness, flavor and taste,” he added.

Chef Williams said, “The execution is what separates the winner from the loser. It was well executed. When you cut into it, it bursts open with flavor.

“Great job! This is a specialized area in the kitchen. We have guests in the hotels who can’t eat regular food and this is what they want.”

Chef Williams took issue with the portion size of Sia’s dessert advising that it should be smaller. He also suggested that she enhance her dish with dark, sautéed tomatoes for more flavor.

Raquel Turnquest, Education Officer, Turnquest congratulated the students for representing themselves, their families and Family and Consumer Science Education Departments.

“You are the brightest and best of what we have,” said Ms. Turnquest. “Continue with your studies. When you put in the time you will get your reward.”

Darius Fernander, of Doris Johnson Senior High School, is interviewed by judges during the competition.

She said, “The whole idea behind this competition is to have a village type of concept around the knowledge, skills and attitudes, that are young chefs need to have industry, home and school all working together to produce young chefs, young culinarians for the future of The Bahamas.

“The competition is to give the students what they need to pursue a career in hospitality and tourism studies. They may choose to be a chef or start their own business. This is something to get the students engaged and immersed in what they are studying in Family and Consumer Science Education.”

She explained that the future of the competition depends on what happens this year — whether the international sponsors would come back next year and whether the MOE, the primary sponsor, would allow the competition to proceed.

“It’s a team effort. This year competing in COVID-19 is a whole different flavor. Hats off to all of the teachers that have set aside the time to work with the students.”

Darius, the first student ever to represent his school’s Vocational Department, entered ‘Long Island Runner and Coconut Darry’ — curry chicken and white rice with a twist. He described it as a baked tartlet with white rice and the crust and cheese as the base, stuffed with minced curry chicken, vegetables and topped off with cheese. The dessert was ‘Coconut Duff with a Coconut Jimmy Sauce.’

Other dishes included:



‘Rake n’ Scrape Rice Cake with Lemon Grass Spiced Poached Conch and Tropical Salsa’ along with ‘Baked Guava Pancakes with Pineapple and Guava Sauce/Cream Cheese’ topping.


‘Surf n Turf: Steamed Dumplings with Vitamalt, Passionfruit Sauce’



‘Avocado Rice Cheesecake with Spicy Tamarind Sauce’ and ‘Bahama Roll in Sea Grape Sauce Topped with Micro Grains.’

Sia Wright, of Akhepran International Academy, explains her method to the judges during the interview session.


‘Coconut Tart Rice Pudding and Sour Orange Iced Flour Cake Cookies’

The top three winners will move into the national round where they will compete against their counterparts in the Family Islands.


By Kathryn Campbell

Release: BIS


Header: Sia Wright, first place finisher in the 29th annual Young Chef New Providence District Competition is shown preparing one of her dishes.

(BIS Photos/Raymond Bethel)



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