Thursday, August 20, 2020

242newsBahamas: Lyford Cay Foundations Grants $1,500,000 to Food Aid - Plus Other News - August 20th, 2020

Lyford Cay Foundations Grants $1,500,000 to
Food Aid

Dear Readers,

As the majority of the country's residents face another week of historical lockdowns, we want to highlight some positive news, which we feel shows that as a community we need to come together to combat this war on COVID-19. We understand the plight of so many who are struggling to care for themselves and their families in this pandemic, especially those already suffering from the after effects of Hurricane Dorian. But despite many negative comments, we believe our government, is trying its best to negotiate this mine-field of decisions.

A Statement from Prime Minister the Most Hon. Dr. Hubert Minnis on Adjustments to the New Providence Lockdown

“In the past few weeks there has been a disturbing rise in COVID-19 cases in New Providence.

“Sadly, additional deaths have been confirmed and our hospital system is stretched to capacity. In coordination with our public health team and through conversations with community stakeholders, it was made clear that the only way to beat back this deadly virus would be to extend lockdown provisions with more restrictions.

“On Monday 17 August, I made the announcement of increased restrictions for New Providence with immediate effect in order to save lives."
Online E-Passport Renewal Services Progressing Well Despite Lockdown

The Passport Office’s online e-passport portal for adult passports has continued with steady progress despite the lockdowns imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Officer in Charge of the Passport Office, Mrs. Allison Rolle said that Bahamians have continued to use the portal. The portal was launched in December 2019.

“The portal has been very active during the lockdown. There was a decline in April, however, activity increased again during the month of May,” said Mrs. Rolle. “Even though we are in a lockdown situation, the Passport Office is still operating, albeit with a skeleton staff at this time.”

She said that from the launch December 9, 2019 to March 31, 2020, the number of applications processed was 2,825. Applications processed from April to 10th August 2020 was 3,765.

Plans for the expansion of Online services on behalf of minors with e-passports is scheduled for Fall 2020.
The Passport Office is currently open three days a week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9a.m. – 1:00 p.m.) for the collection of passports.
Grand Bahama Port Authority’s Clean-Up of Derelict Vehicles Underway

The Grand Bahama Port Authority, Limited (GBPA) is progressing on its initiative to rid Freeport of the unsanitary and unsightly problem of derelict vehicles in and around residential and commercial areas and on verges.

“In June 2020, we advised that the GBPA was partnering with the Royal Bahamas Police Force and Department of Environmental Health to bring resolve to the ongoing issue of illegal dumping of vehicles,” said Ian Rolle, President of the GBPA. “At that time, we also designated land in the Civic Industrial Area for the temporary disposal of such vehicles, many of which were destroyed by floodwaters during Hurricane Dorian, until they are able to be shipped to a US-based facility for crushing.”

The GBPA advised that its City Maintenance and Management section has completed the clean-up of abandoned vehicles in the area of Queens Cove and at Poor Man's Auto located near Solomon's food store on Queens Highway. Additionally, progress has been made in cleaning up Freeport’s roadways.
Bahamas Waste Helping Curb COVID-19 In Inner City Communities

For the past five months, Bahamas Waste and its employees have remained at the forefront of the fight to curb the spread of COVID 19 in The Bahamas. In addition to providing collection and waste management services for both its residential and commercial customers, the company’s handwashing and sanitization stations have become staples outside local banks and major grocery stores to ensure the safety of all.

Now through a partnership with local activist and community leader BJ Moss, the company has donated these lifesaving stations to those most vulnerable and unable to afford these rentals. “Over the year’s we’ve taken our mandate to be a community partner very seriously and now with the pandemic, we are working with essential partners to protect those who are at real risk,” noted Bahamas Waste Operations Manager, Ethelyn Davis.
New Non-Profit Feeding the Inner-City Challenged

“Since the COVID-19 pandemic we’ve been delivering food packages to inner city areas every week,” said Sally Van Tooren the co-founder of the “Family Help & Support Foundation”, a local community-help group recently awarded a non-profit designation for their meaningful inner-city outreach programmes.

“Every Saturday we deliver substantial food parcels to some very distressing inner-city areas with extremely poor living conditions. To date we’ve fed 1,632 families and will continue to do so for as long as pandemic needs dictate. Additionally, along with the food bags and bottled water, we have distributed approximately 4,000 partly sponsored masks and enormous and significant donations of freshly baked goods and children’s toys and colouring books.”

The philanthropist said that their weekly out-reach appears to be a lifeline for very many severely impoverished Bahamians living off the beaten track and that some are existing on dirt roads, in half-finished abandoned buildings and broken down cars.
Statement from GB Shipyard

Despite the critical challenges facing the Grand Bahama Shipyard, we have implemented a strategy that we believe will allow us to remain operational and continue to contribute to the economy of Grand Bahama and the wider Bahamian economy.

Developments over the past 15 months have brought the Shipyard to the brink of closure. These include:
1. Loss of two of our three dry docks – one in an accident in April 2019, the other in Hurricane Dorian – cutting operational capabilities by 75%.
2. Fallout from COVID 19 including total loss of cruise business, by far our most lucrative sector. Overnight, our most valuable client base has completely dried up.
3. It is not possible in the current economic climate to expect cash injections from shareholders or indeed to take bank loans to keep on more staff than are required for the ongoing operations.

We face these crippling challenges at a time of unprecedented economic uncertainty around the world and intensified competition within the industry for fewer and fewer projects with much tighter budgets.
NIB Cheque Distribution to Assist Thousands of Unemployed, Continues at the Stadium

The National Insurance Board (NIB), which was created and mandated to assist its paying customers in times of illness, industrial accident, pregnancy or unemployment, set up office at the National Stadium in May to better facilitate the distribution of benefit cheques.

The move from its headquarters to the National Stadium, explained Director Dr. Nicola Virgil-Rolle, was to distribute unemployment benefit cheques in a larger area to thousands of persons who lost jobs because of COVID-19, thereby better complying with protocols of the Emergency Orders to keep people safe: social distancing, hand sanitizing, in addition to the important wearing of masks by both employees and customers.

The Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce (GBCC) remains extremely concerned about our post-Dorian and now post-COVID economy in Grand Bahama and nationally.

We ask special consideration in lifting the lockdown to avoid the further suppression of commerce on the island. GBCC remains committed to working with all stakeholders; however, we ask for consideration for alternative measures besides lockdowns. To help swiftly move our recovery ahead, we make the following recommendations based on the prevailing conditions while recognizing that the situation remains very fluid and subject to change.
• Obtain a COVID testing machine for Grand Bahama.
• Enforce that all businesses follow the protocols as established by the government, relating to physical distancing, masks, hand sanitizers, cleaning work areas numerous times daily, posting of and adhering to how many persons can be in a store/business based on government guidelines, etc. There has to be special attention given to locations that are known to have challenges with crowd control.
• Create a hotline, WhatsApp messaging, email, and website to report businesses and individuals not adhering to government protocols and guidelines.
DNA Chairman on Protests in New Providence

 Complete lockdown was abrupt
 Bahamians are frustrated with Competent Authority
 Protests are result of poor COVID-19 decisions
 Release protesters without charges
The Democratic National Alliance (DNA) is saddened and disturbed by what is happening on the streets of our capital. Last night’s abrupt announcement of a complete lockdown of New Providence has so shocked our people that they have taken to the streets. While we understand that health officials have determined that our situation is dire, if an extreme measure such as this was necessary, it should not have been done in this manner.
The general public relies on the government to make sensible decisions in relation to this pandemic. We expect openness and honesty; we also expect the implementation of measures to be done in decency and in order. While Bahamians are frustrated with the hardships that this crisis has brought, we are equally or more frustrated with the way the Competent Authority has responded to the crisis. The Competent Authority showed no compassion for his people and it is obvious that he does not empathize with their plight.

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