Political row over flooding in The Bahamas

NASSAU — The former minister of works and urban development is blasting government for failing to ensure local contractors adequately clean storm sewers and wells in the capital.

Neko Grant, the member of Parliament for Central Grand Bahama, called on the Philip Brave Davis to provide proof that contracts were issued for the cleaning of wells. Davis, the current minister of works and urban development, did not respond to requests for comment before press time.

However, during a press conference yesterday, Davis did note that private contractors have been enlisted to deal with the wells following the latest storm.

“There is a real question as to whether they were cleaned,” Grant told Guardian Business. “We have conflicting reports. We have an engineer from the Ministry of Works who suggested they would endeavor to clean the wells. Then we had a contractor saying the wells did not function. It raises the question as to whether the wells were properly cleaned on time.”

The MP said that wells were cleaned by four main contractors on New Providence during the last Free National Movement administration.

Last week, parts of the capital were severely flooded after long periods of heavy rainfall, which caused power outages, lost revenue for businesses and big losses for local insurance companies.

Meanwhile, the Department of Meteorology issued a warning yesterday that New Providence can expect more excessive rainfall and flooding between now and Friday, as well as thunderstorms and possible tornadoes.

The poor weather has not only raised the question of proper well maintenance by contractors, but also whether government has properly invested in the capital’s infrastructure.

Glen Laville, the general manager of Water and Sewerage Corporation, said there needs to be an overall improvement in storm water drainage.

Nassau had been improperly planned in the past, he said, and new measures must be put in place to protect residents and businesses. The WSC executive said many areas that used to be wetlands have now become residential subdivisions.

“Concrete, asphalt and all these things change the runoff situation. The removal of vegetation and trees also plays a role,” he explained. “Like anything it comes down to a national development plan and a financial plan to implement it.” (Nassau Guardian)

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