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PM Davis says Regional UNFCCC Meeting Attendees share a ‘determination to make important progress’ on climate change issues

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By ERIC ROSE

Bahamas Information Services

 

#NASSAU, The Bahamas, August 16, 2022 –  – During his Official Remarks at the Opening Plenary Session of the Caribbean Regional Heads of Government Meeting in Preparation for the United Nations Climate Change Conference of The Parties 27 (COP 27), on August 16, 2022, Prime Minister of The Bahamas and Minister of Finance the Hon. Philip Davis noted to attendees that they all shared a determination to make important progress together in the coming days.

“As many of you know, the end of August and the beginning of September has become a very poignant time on the Bahamian calendar,” Prime Minister Davis pointed out, at the Meeting, held at Baha Mar Convention Centre.  “September 1st will make three years since Hurricane Dorian landed on our shores.”

“The physical, psychological, social, and economic damages are still very much with us,” he added.  “Across the world, we’ve seen the intense heatwaves, wildfires, and droughts that are further, terrible evidence of the accelerating impact of climate change.”

Prime Minister Davis said that, with the climate changing faster than predicted, the challenges they all faced were stark; but they were “not insurmountable”.

“One thing is clear: success will require collective action,” he said.

“If we advance our interests merely as individual Small Island Developing States, our voices will be dispersed, unable to be heard above louder, wealthier, carbon-producing interests,” he added.

Prime Minister Davis said: “Friends: There really is strength in numbers; and if we stand together, we are less likely to fall apart.  And so this regional meeting is critical.  Our shared characteristics go beyond our physical geography.

“We need to find effective, efficient ways to adapt to new realities,” he added.  “We have to re-structure our lives and our living environment to mitigate against the disasters which are becoming more frequent and more severe.

“Easy to say – much harder to pay for.”

Prime Minister Davis noted that the Caribbean had been identified as the region with the largest number of indebted countries.  He said that while there were multiple reasons for this, in many cases a major contributor to debt is borrowing associated with recovery efforts from the impact of climate change.

“Here in The Bahamas, we undertook an exercise which revealed that more than 50% of our outstanding debt can be linked to the impacts of the hurricanes which descended on us between 2015 and 2019,” Prime Minister Davis said.  “Our countries are struggling with debts accumulated by climate disasters.”

He added:  “What does this mean for the development of our nations, when our risk profile is becoming so severe that insurers question their willingness to offer risk facilities to offset climate disasters?  Put simply, we are in danger of becoming uninsurable.”

Prime Minister Davis said that many, if not all, of the countries represented at the Meeting had already faced challenges in accessing climate-related funds.

By acting in “common cause”, he said, they could move with more authority and with greater impact to address legacy issues which have held them back from making meaningful progress.

“This is not to say that there aren’t differences among us,” he noted.  “With some issues, we can agree to disagree.  With others, we can use this forum to find and build consensus before we engage with our colleagues around the world.”

Prime Minister Davis said that COP26 in Glasgow promised a renewed commitment to act.   He noted that in the prior two weeks, both the United States and Australia had taken “historic” steps forward to address emissions.

“But the conflict in Ukraine, spiraling inflation in energy costs along with other goods and services, and significant disruption to supply chains, have put pressures on the promises to restrain carbon emissions around the world,” Prime Minister Davis said.

“The progress in the United States and Australia is important,” he pointed out.  “The world’s wealthiest and most powerful countries generate 80% of global emissions. They can act – when they choose to.”

“Their progress also shows nothing is inevitable, in this great fight of our time,” Prime Minister Davis pointed out.  “We cannot get stuck, or allow others to languish in inaction, when forward motion is required.”

Prime Minister noted that there was much room for innovation.

“I don’t just mean technological innovation – I also mean innovation in the way we think about climate challenges and solutions,” he said.  “Consider, for example, the Call to Action on Living Lands (CALL), which emerged from the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Rwanda earlier this summer.

“The Call to Action highlights the importance of building natural resilience by stopping and reversing biodiversity loss, and developing nature-based and ecosystem-based approaches to combating climate change.”

Prime Minister Davis noted that, if it was true that almost all of the hard work fighting climate change lies ahead of them all, it was also true that their ingenuity was up to the challenge.

“And so, Friends, I encourage your most active and vigorous participation in these discussions.  Let us bring our best ideas to the table,” he said.  “Let us work together to construct a joint solution in respect of climate risk insurance and other climate risk facilities.

“And let us take practical steps to improve access to climate finance.”

Prime Minister Davis noted that they were well-aware that, going into COP27, work was underway to advance the implementation of a Santiago Network on Loss and Damage, along with the establishment of a Loss and Damage Facility.

“These are important tools to support our countries,” he said.

“However, we also need to ensure that risk or insurance facilities are also in the toolbox of solutions to help our people,” Prime Minister Davis added.  “Access to climate finance should not be unclear or cumbersome. And the application of per capita overseas development assistance eligibility should not be taken as the main consideration for offering climate finance; if so, means that many Caribbean states would be frozen out from the start.”

Prime Minister Davis said that they should all work together to advance the use of a Multi-Dimensional Vulnerability Index to reflect the true needs of Small Island Developing States; and work to persuade donors and partners to ensure that all SIDS are eligible for access to bilateral climate financing.

“Colleagues, we are at an important time, when the New Collective Quantified Goal on Climate Finance is currently being assessed by countries operating within the UNFCCC framework,” he said.

“If we can do the heavy lifting here, our chances of success are greatly improved,” he added.  “We are more likely to avoid the mistakes of the past.

“And we will have a greater chance of securing better futures for us all.”

Prime Minister Davis said that it was his “fervent hope” that the meeting becomes an annual event, one where common interests, shared objectives and mutually-accepted protocols, lead to “outcomes which will ensure our very survival”.

“It is no exaggeration to say that our very lives depend on it; and the only way forward is together,” he said.

 

Photo Caption: Prime Minister of The Bahamas and Minister of Finance the Hon. Philip Davis speaks, on August 16, 2022 at Baha Mar, during his Official Remarks at the Opening Plenary Session of the Caribbean Regional Heads of Government Meeting in Preparation for the United Nations Climate Change Conference of The Parties 27 (COP 27), which will take place in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt in November.

(BIS Photos/Eric Rose)

 

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Statement on Road Traffic Department 

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#TheBahamas, September 26, 2022 – As an integral agency under the Ministry of Transport and Housing, the Road Traffic Department is responsible for the collection of revenue from vehicle licensing and inspection fees.

On an annual basis, the revenue from the Road Traffic Department exceeds 60 million dollars.

This revenue is critical in supporting the programmes and initiatives of the Government of The Bahamas and covers the operating costs of the Road Traffic Department.

The revenue must be protected.

To ensure the integrity of revenue collected, numerous processes and procedures have been implemented. Additionally, several audits have been undertaken to ensure that employees act in accordance with the established protocols of the Department.

The Ministry is aware of allegations and discord in the public domain between two employees at the Road Traffic Department.

While it is not the policy of the Government of The Bahamas to publicly comment on internal staff matters, the Ministry takes grave exception to personal allegations against employees being made public while the allegations remain under investigation by independent parties.

Public Officers are reminded of the provisions of General Orders which disallows public statements on any matter.

The Ministry continues to foster and encourage a harmonious and respectful working environment at the Road Traffic Department and all agencies under its remit.

The Ministry remains strongly committed to strengthening the audit and compliance oversight of the Road Traffic Department and will not be deterred its efforts to safeguard the Government’s revenue stream.

 

September 26th, 2022 

Ministry of Transport & Housing

Commonwealth of The Bahamas

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NEMA Director orders activation of shelters in GB, Bimini

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NASSAU, The Bahamas – Director of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Captain Stephen Russell, Wednesday, ordered the activation of shelters in Grand Bahama and Bimini as a precautionary measure against potential impacts from Tropical Storm-Force conditions associated with Hurricane Ian.

 Six shelters were activated in Grand Bahama (two in Freeport, two in Eight-Mile Rock, and one each in Pinedale, Seagrape and Holmes’ Rock) and one in Bimini (Gateway in Bailey Town) at 10am. Captain Russell also announced that Floodwater Rescue Teams have been pre-positioned in West End and Alice Town as yet another precautionary measure.

 The National Emergency Management Agency’s National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) remained on Partial Activation Wednesday and will remain Activated throughout the response phase. Teams from the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, The Bahamas Department of Meteorology, the Department of Social Services, and the Department of Local Government, have been in communication with Island Administrators, Local Government officials and Disaster Consultative Committees in the north-western Bahamas.

 During Partial Activation, certain NEOC Team Members (known as Emergency Support Functions) are activated to monitor certain risks and/or hazards in areas that could be impacted by weather conditions associated with the passage of a storm, and as a means of communicating with/supporting disaster managers and planners and disaster consultative committees on the ground in those areas.

 The NEOC is responsible for executing emergency management and ensuring the continuity of operations for the entire country.

 Meanwhile, a Tropical Storm Warning remained in effect for the north-western Bahamas as at 12noon Wednesday with residents of Grand Bahama and the Biminis being advised to prepare for the possibility of sustained Tropical Storm-Force winds tonight through Thursday. Residents in the remainder of the northwest Bahamas, including Abaco, the Berry Islands, North Andros, New Providence and Eleuthera, could experience winds gusting to gale-force during this period.

 (A Tropical Storm Warning means that Tropical Storm conditions could be experienced in the mentioned islands within 36 hours.) 

 Forecasters at The Bahamas Department of Meteorology said rainbands associated with Hurricane Ian, will continue to affect the islands of the northwest Bahamas today and Thursday. Residents in these islands are asked to exercise extreme caution as the rainbands will bring severe thunderstorms, gusty winds and possible tornadic activity.

 Total rainfall amounts of 4 to 6 inches are expected with isolated amounts of up to 8 inches through Friday. As a result, severe, localized flooding is possible in low-lying and flood-prone areas.

Residents of low-lying, flood-prone areas of the north-western Bahamas, are asked to take special precautions during any heavy and/or prolonged rainfall event, and to exercise extreme caution in the event there is flooding. One such precautionary measure is to avoid driving in or through floodwater, where possible, or playing in floodwater (children) as floodwater can contain numerous hidden hazards. These include:

  • Downed power lines.
  • Sewage and other contaminants.
  • Large Holes.
  • Sharp objects that can cause injury and lead to infections.
  • Objects such as lumber, vehicles, debris.
  • Carcasses of dead animals, in addition to rodents and snakes.

Exposure to contaminated floodwater can result in:

  • Wound infections.
  • Skin rash.
  • Gastrointestinal illnesses.
  • Tetanus (Lock-jaw).

If you do come into contact with floodwater, you are advised to:

  • Wash the area with soap and clean water as soon as possible. If you do not have soap or water, use alcohol-based wipes or sanitizers.
  • Wash clothes contaminated with floodwater or sewage water in hot water and detergent before re-using them.

If you must enter floodwater, protect yourselves by wearing rubber boots, rubber gloves and goggles. The same goes for Standing Water.

The National Emergency Management Agency reminds residents to pay close attention to the Alerts, NEWS ITEMS, Public Forecasts, Severe Weather Warnings and/or Special Weather Statements issued by The Bahamas Department of Meteorology.

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Glass Window Bridge envisioned as a symbol of resilience and sustainability says Works and Utilities Minister

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By KATHRYN CAMPBELL

Bahamas Information Services

 

#ELEUTHERA, The Bahamas, September 27, 2022 –  A new bridge design that incorporates opportunities for Bahamian entrepreneurs was presented at a Town Hall Meeting Thursday, September 22, 2022 at St. Patrick’s Lodge Hall, Hatchet Bay.

During the livestreamed event the Minister of Works and Utilities, the Hon. Alfred Sears; the Hon. Clay Sweeting, Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs; island administrators, representatives of the Ministry of Works, Town Planning Board, the Bridge Authority, Local Government, Lambert Knowles and other consultants, and residents of Eleuthera discussed plans for the proposed replacement of the Glass Window Bridge (GWB) in North Eleuthera.

Minister Sears termed the meeting very “successful” consultation and attendance by local stakeholders and virtual participants.

He said Mr. Knowles has assembled a world-class team of bridge designers who have put together a design that will turn the GWB “into a symbol of resilience, sustainability and also a place of entertainment and relaxation where Bahamian businesses can come and share in the wonderful goods of Eleuthera to the international travelling public as well as the residents in Eleuthera.

“We’re speaking now with Caribbean Development Bank with respect to funding; the design is now completed, there is also interest in PPP’s. Within the next two months we should have a funding pathway and then of course we will move on the procurement. Once the funding is in place we will announce a date.”

“It is not only a look out point, we are approaching this project as an enterprise where the people who live in Eleuthera would have the same opportunities that the people in South would have as the Disney Project would have, but it would be more significant than Disney because this project would be owned by Bahamian people — entrepreneurs, performers and culinary artists.

“Eleuthera is one of the places in the Commonwealth of the Bahamas where development is taking place very rapidly. It is one of the most unique communities in our country; it is the fifth largest economy within the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. We have some of the wealthiest industrialists with homes in Eleuthera; we also have booming Bahamian business resorts throughout Eleuthera.”

The GWD represents a place where we “can build opportunities for Bahamian businesses, Bahamian entrepreneurs to showcase the imagination of the Bahamian crafts persons, also to showcase the culinary skills as well as the extraordinary culinary dishes of Bahamian cuisine,” he said.

Although “spectacular” Minister Sears said the current one-lane bridge is “dangerous” and unable to facilitate the transport of freight from the north to the south of the island because its carrying capacity is only 12 tonnes — anything over 12 tonnes cannot be transported over the bridge.

He noted other challenges and informed that the bridge is not fulfilling the potential that it has for the development of Eleuthera.

Using a Power Point presentation, Mr. Knowles introduced the design team, technical aspects of the built design and various options considered for the new bridge.

He said the proposed bridge will be unique; a picture opportunity and a venue to host an event. It will have a park, security, rest rooms, parking, a location for food trucks to sell crafts and food; and topography with different elevation.

During the question and answer segment, Minister Sears said a decision has not yet been made regarding a bridge toll on the major undertaking.

“It is a project which multilateral bodies and private sector investors have expressed an interest in participating in the funding. It is a project that once we have the community by-in the government is committed to building a world class production at this location.” Construction is expected to take place on the proposed bridge from 2023-2026 at an estimated cost of $50-$60 million.

The GWB was built in 1990 and provides the only vehicular link between North and South Eleuthera.

 

(BIS Photos/Ulric Woodside)

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