Tuesday, May 18, 2021


Darville Says Lloyd Ignored Mayaguana. Why He Believes Emmanuel Should Show Support

Opposition Senator Michael Darville is calling on MICAL MP Miriam Emmanuel to stand up and say something on the issue involving the amalgamation of the school system in Mayaguana.

“It is interesting that in the face of all of this, the duly elected member for MICAL has not made a public intervention and remains silent to date.”

Darville said combining the primary and secondary public schools in Mayaguana is “a regressive education policy and a move backwards to the outdated ‘all age school’ education system.”

He said Education Minister Jeff Lloyd is ignoring the cries of the community, but he awaits Emmanuel’s response to the plight of her constituents.

What happened to the school system in Mayaguana?

Education officials closed the public schools, Abraham’s Bay High School and Pirates Well Primary school to combine the education system on the southern island.

Lloyd said this was the best move and Education Director Marcellus Taylor agreed, saying it allows for all teachers to teach on one site instead of leaving to teach at the other building.

Taylor said this new move will improve teaching and learning on the island as enrollment decreases.

Abraham’s Bay High School would become the administration building.

Where would the schools be relocated?

The schools will be relocated to the proposed refurbished site in Pirate’s Well which is the Lodge Hall building.

Teachers Union Leader Belinda Wilson said the government should pause the move until all parties come to an agreement. She described the lodge building as “dilapidated.”

Darville said the building is inadequate, not COVID-19 compliant and believes the refurbishment cannot be completed in time for school opening.

What do parents want?

On August 7th, parents and students held a protest, demanding that the schools remain as is, saying it allows for social distancing in an era of COVID-19.

One mother said the settlement of Betsy Bay was crippled by the closure.

One of Lavard’s Suspected Killer Celebrates Birthday Before the Courts

The suspected killers of 17-year-old Lavard McKenzie were hauled before the Magistrates’ Court today to face charges of murder.

Twenty-year-old Franklyn Glinton and a 17-year-old juvenile were escorted to the court to face charges after Lavard was found dead in bushes off Carmichael Road on Sunday.

They could not enter a plea.

Franklyn celebrated his birthday in handcuffs and was remanded to the Bahamas Department of Corrections, while the juvenile was remanded to the Simpson Penn School.

The juvenile goes to court to face murder charges. Photo credit: Our News

The pair returns to court on December 15th.

The death of Lavard attracted public attention as the suspects are believed to friends of the victim.

A search party by the victims’ family discovered his body after canvassing the area where he was last seen after going missing last Thursday.


Featured photo credit: Our News

Toddler Drowns In Bimini Hotel Pool; Resort World Bimini Rejects Incident Claims

Police confirming that a three-year-old boy succumbed in the hospital after a  drowning incident at a hotel property in Bimini.

Officials said the toddler was pulled from the bottom of a swimming pool on Tuesday night, after 9 p.m.

However, the boy died on Wednesday morning.

Police said, “The child was rushed to the Bimini clinic and later airlifted to New Providence for further medical attention at the Princess Margaret Hospital.”

It is not known on which hotel property the incident occurred, but Resort World Bimini denied claims the incident occurred on its property, as alleged in some social media posts and reported by the media.

Resort World says it is currently closed and none of its securities were involved in the accident.

None the less, RW extended sympathies and prayers to the family of the young boy.
Police said investigations into the drowning continue.

Can You Survive the 2020 School Year?

October 5th is the targetted date for the reopening of schools in the Bahamas.

New Providence, Abaco and Eleuthera will engage in online learning, while schools in Grand Bahama and other Family Islands will offer face-to-face learning.

Education Minister Jeffrey Lloyd in a report to the nation announced that an increase in the infection rate of the COVID-19 in New Providence and Family Islands has forced the Department of Education to urgently plan and consider the reopening of schools, which was previously scheduled to reopen September 21st.

However, Bahamas Union of Teachers Belinda Wilson is lamenting that education officials did not confer the new date with the union and is asking education officials for the policy that will govern online and in-person learning amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Will online learning cause problems?

Some teachers have taken to social media to vent their frustrations about the logistics of reopening schools, questioning if the government will provide the digital devices for the teaching instructions, how to ensure student attendance in online learning, and the care of their children as they teach online classes.

Director of Education Marcellus Taylor said employers, to the extent that they can, should consider some levels of flexibility around working arrangements or allowing children to come along with their parents to work, if possible.

He added that attendance officers will ensure the attendance of students, and resource packages will be issued to students without access to the internet and a computer.

Wilson, appearing on Beyond the Headlines, queried the number of hours given for students in a virtual setting, saying the officials assigned too many hours for students to sit and learn virtually.

She also questioned how teachers will assess students’ examinations and quizzes, and how administrators will assess teachers’ performance.

Dr. Ebby Jackson proprietor of Palmdale Vision Center said the online learning has a negative effect on the eyes. Jackson appearing on Beyond the Headlines said eyes were not made to be locked onto a computer screen for long periods of time, which she said will be problematic for teachers, parents, and the students, particularly if either party suffers from an underlying condition.

What are the risks of in-person schooling?

While online learning may present some economic and social impediments, face-to-face classes present clear public health risks to the physical reopening of schools. Though not surging in the Family Islands, COVID-19 cases are springing up.

And schools bring together hundreds of students, which may present a challenge with talking and camaraderie during the lunch period, which experts say cause the virus to spread.

However, most schools on the islands have small population sizes, and Taylor said these schools permit for social distancing, in contrast to schools in New Providence.

Officials announced that students will be spaced 3 feet apart in the classroom, but Wilson is calling for 6 feet spacing, as stipulated for social protocols.

Wilson questioned the class sizes under which teachers will be expected to engage students and implored that education officials install acrylic or plexiglass sheets around the desks of teachers, to reduce the spread.

How Street Vendors Fit In Minnis’ Plan After Arrests

In recent times, the streets of the country have become occupied with street vendors, selling bottled water, coconut water, fruits and peanuts, some on sidewalks, and others in the middle of two-lane traffic.

Unemployment, compounded by the increased cost of living, has rapidly accelerated street vending in the country, particularly in New Providence.

On Monday, Prime Minister Hubert Minnis addressed them, promising to review the current licensing and regulatory procedures.  Dr. Minnis said his government wants to enable street vendors to sell their products in safe and secure venues.

He said street vendors play an important role in the country’s economy. “Accordingly, we will be offering a way for enterprising Bahamians to be able to sell their products on the streets of their respective islands,” Dr. Minnis said.

“We want them to be able to do so in a way that does not pose undue dangers to themselves, pedestrians, or the motoring public. We will put in place the standards that ensure that they are able to meet health code requirements and thus not pose any health risk related to COVID-19 or otherwise. The vendors will be trained in these standards as a requirement of their license.”

This comes after some ‘coconut boys’ have been arrested and charged before the courts for violating the order and selling their products during the pandemic.

Regulations implemented by Minnis to limit the increase of street vendors

In May, Dr.Minnis announced plans to put an end to unregulated street vendors.

In the country’s fight to prevent the spread of the virus, Dr. Minnis said the government will create designated locations for vendors.

“This sprawling of vendors that we see today throughout New Providence will no longer be seen nor tolerated,” he said.

These requirements by vendors are necessary for operation:

  • Vendor’s permit
  • Valid I.D. card /driver’s license/passport.
  • Food Handlers Certificate.
  • Letter of inspection from Environmental Health – if selling food.
  • Letter from District Head Quarters of Police Department.
  • A Valid Business Licence.

Who are the ‘coconut boys’?

Economic hardship experienced by these young people has resulted in the creation of a small street business in search of better livelihoods.

Many of the vendors selling coconut water are males between the age of 18 and 25. Many have recounted stories of hardships and accumulating only enough money to cover expenses and care for their families.

  • Jason Williams is an 18-year-old graduate of C.I Gibson who started his own business one year ago, selling coconut juice and jelly to locals and visitors throughout Nassau.  He said he operated the small business to help support his family as he searches for a job. Williams said street vending keeps him focused in a society where young men have turned to violence and gang activities.  photo
  • Marvin Joseph is a 20-year-old man who sells mangoes, coconut water, and coconut jelly on the side of the street. Joseph said life has been hard for him and the job allows him to make enough money to feed his daughter, and pay rent. Joseph said he was evicted from his home and was living with his aunt. 
  • Moreko Mackey is a 19-year-old  street vendor of Harold Road who sells coconut water and meat.

All of the vendors aforementioned were charged before the Magistrates’ Court. Williams was fined $700, Joseph was fined $800 after three violations of the order, and Mackey was released by the Magistrate with a warning. These fines were paid with the assistance of the public.

Minnis softening his approach

The public has criticized Minnis administration’s hard stance against vendors who have won the empathy and support of the public.

On Monday, Dr. Minnis said his government will make available additional funding to the Small Business Development Center for business loans or grants for the street vendors. He said this will allow them to adjust to the current circumstances and to support or expand their business start-ups or expansion.

He said the coconut boys will be given a financial grant, which is a gift from the government, to establish and expand their business

Minnis added that materials needed for the job will also be provided such as coolers and umbrellas to operate on the street.

Attorney Wayne Munroe and activist Khandi Gibson have since called on Dr. Minnis to assist in the expungement of the coconut boys’ criminal records which they said pose a threat to their advancement.

How Dr Minnis Made a Right About Turn and Won the Hearts of the Lockdown Opponents

The country expected a full lockdown, but Prime Minister Hubert Minnis did an about-turn and surprised many.

On Monday evening, Dr. Minnis announced that New Providence was no longer considered for a complete lockdown. This announcement drew the shock and satisfaction of many who expected a complete lockdown this week following the reversal of the order last week Tuesday.

Dr. Minnis at the Ministry of Health’s press conference on Monday afternoon said, “I am happy to tell you that the health team sees positive trends developing regarding the situation in New Providence. At this time a hard lockdown is no longer recommended for New Providence.”

He said last week’s decision was based on the data available and health officials’ recommendations at that time.

Now, health officials have changed their recommendations.

Why is a ‘full lockdown’ not considered anymore?

Many of the confirmed Covid-19 cases were duplicated, presenting a false sense of alarm in the number of confirmed cases in the country.

Sunday’s dashboard reflected 1504 active cases, but after review, the number was adjusted to 1113 active cases. This shows a 391 difference in cases.

What caused the duplication?
Dr. Merceline Dahl-Regis at the MOH COVID-19 update

Advisor to the Prime Minister, Dr. Merceline Dahl-Regis said a large number of cases and the significant backlog were not documented on an electronic platform, which improved its data management.

With the implementation of electronics, health officials were able to monitor the progress and revised the number of backlogged cases.

Dr. Dahl-Regis said health officials then presented the government with the corrected analysis of the cases with revised recommendations.

What are people saying?

Many Bahamians are praising Dr. Minnis for the decision to not implement a full lockdown for New Providence. They took to social media to applaud the government’s decision. People’s responses were an extreme contrast to last week’s reaction to the full lockdown, as Dr. Minnis said he was “called everything but a child of God.”

Eugene Patton said, “I am thankful for the work of the Prime Minister so far in these rough and difficult times. Furthermore, the PM made the right decision to free some of the restrictions.”

Adrianne Brennen said, “Thank you so much prime minister, for a job that was done well.”

Tracy Thompson said, “Minnis you roc.”

What does it mean for the population?

The infectious virus has not gone away, even though the government has not implemented the full lockdown. Thirty-six cases were reported on Sunday and 14 cases reported on Monday. The COVID-19 total is still high.

As people are now given the opportunity to move around with little restriction, cases will appear and there may be a far greater burden of death and illness. If they do not practice social distancing, wash their hands, and wear a mask, the numbers will increase exponentially.

People must be mindful that the extent of the virus or the number of COVID-19 cases is not known. Practice the social measures, and assume that everyone has the virus.

BNU President Warns Young People and Govt Following Death of Nurse

Following the death of Registered Nurse Bernadette Rolle, who is the latest COVID-19 victim to succumb to the infectious disease, Bahamas Nurses Union (BNU) President Amancha Williams pleaded with the public to take the virus seriously and stay at home.

She told Eye Witness News, “We have nurses who are home self-medicating, [experiencing] respiratory distress. Please Bahamas, stay home. This is not the partying time. This is serious. We have lost our own. We are begging you, stay at home and hand sanitize, and do what you ought to do as a Bahamian citizen.”

Image may contain: 3 people, text that says 'All about Me!'
Nurse Bernadette Rolle Photo credit: Rhvae Rolle Williams FB

Rolle, a nurse at the Sandilands Rehabilitation Center, died on Friday after a battle with the virus. She remained at home and reports say she presented herself at the hospital twice, but was turned away due to lack of beds at the facility.

Williams said Rolle had a comorbidity.

“You don’t send anyone home, especially a nurse. A nurse should have had a bed in ICU, like we do for the other rest of hierarchies,” Williams lamented,

Nurses union president warns the government

Williams said nurses have had enough and if the situation does not improve, the union will engage in strike action.

“As of today, if things ain’t right, you could assure every nurse in the Commonwealth of the Bahamas will be sitting under a tree as of today,” she said.

“Prime Minister, we are tired. Minister of health, we’re tired.”

Williams continued, “I am telling the nurses in the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, if there is no PPE and no N95 mask, no boot, no cover for your head, please, do not enter. Sit and wait till the relevant authority come and bring them.”

Former health minister responds to the death of his constituent

Former Health Minister Duane Sands paid tribute to Rolle saying health workers pay a high price as front liners of the coronavirus.

In a Facebook post, he said, “The death of Bernadette Rolle RN…reminds us of the price that healthcare workers pay in the battle against Covid-19 in the Bahamas.

“Like our colleague, Judson Eneas – she has succumbed in this war. I was privileged to know her. She lived in the area I represent. I offer sincere condolences to her children and family.”

Sands added that the true number of infected individuals are not known as confirmed Covid-19 cases are only a percentage of the total.

Sands encouraged the public to stay safe and practice social distancing.

Health minister offers condolences

The new Minister of Health Renward Wells confirmed Rolle’s death and acknowledged her contribution the health sector.

“As we mourn the loss of a brave warrior from the frontline in our fight against the pandemic COVID-19, the nation is grateful for her service.

“Nurse Rolle was dedicated to her family, to her patients, and to the institutions of nursing and SRC.

“On behalf of the Government of The Bahamas and my Ministry, and on my own behalf, extend sincere condolences, particularly to her two children, her patients that she dearly loved, and to her nursing colleagues at SRC who are her extended family,” he said.

Robinson Alerts Public to 7-Day Full Lockdown

Bain and Grants Town MP Travis Robinson forewarned that a 7-day lockdown is likely after passage of the impending storm on the weekend.

In a Facebook post, that is now deleted, Robinson encouraged residents to prepare with grocery items and medical supplies.

“Get the much needed groceries and medical supplies as necessary. A pending storm is headed for the Bahamas and is expected to make landfall by Sunday or Monday. It is my expectation that after the storm passes depending on its impact,  new 7 day complete lockdown will be imposed.”

This alert by Robinson comes after Prime Minister Hubert Minnis reversed the 7-day full lockdown after he imposed the new order “with immediate effect.”

The next day, Minnis reopened grocery stores, gas stations and pharmacies after many complaints that he did not grant sufficient time to prepare for the full lockdown.

Dr. Minnis acknowledged that he received complaints from the public about the immediacy of the lockdown and lifted it so that residents can prepare for a weather system that expected to reach the Bahamas by Sunday.

Robinson continued, “We are still at war with COVID-19, so we must remain cautious and follow the medical health protocols. We are in this fight together.”

It remains to be seen if or when Dr. Minnis will  implement a full lockdown.

Dr. Minnis Announces a ‘Complete Lockdown.’ Here’s What It Means?

The Bahamas has had it shares of lockdowns since the rise in coronavirus cases. But this one is different.

Before, Bahamians had access to essential services like grocery stores and pharmacies, while non-essential services remained closed. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays were allotted for shopping only.

Now, a 7-day complete lockdown is in effect for Grand Bahama and New Providence where COVID-19 cases have taken a toll.

What is a complete lockdown?

A  ‘complete lockdown’ or ‘full lockdown,’ as it is sometimes referred, is the requirement by people to remain at home due to risk of the coronavirus to themselves and others, if they move freely.

All grocery stores, water depots, gas stations and private pharmacies are closed. Only public healthcare,  hospitals and private medical facilities are opened for emergencies.  Businesses and commercial activities will be closed.Construction will be permitted.  International shipping, freight forwarders and domestic freight will be permitted to continue, but goods and supplies must be stored.

Anyone required to be on the streets must contact 311 for permission. Violators will be fined.

Why a complete lockdown?

Health indicators on New Providence show a high number of new cases,  increased hospitalizations and increase in deaths.

Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said if further restrictive measures are not taken to control and to slow the spread of COVID-19 on New Providence at this time, it will take a long time to bring the virus under control.

Dr. Minnis said, “The sooner we bring the virus under control the shorter the time will be to return to few restrictive measures. Unfortunately, too many people are not taking the current lockdowns and health measures seriously.

“Some people are gathering in groups in their neighborhoods. Some are going out when unnecessary. Some are notfollowing health guidelines when out in public. Some are going out visiting friends and family.”

Dr. Minnis added that some people are engaging in socials and parties, and said the virus is spreading rapidly because of the failure of many people to adhere to life-saving and preventative measures.

What would people do who depend on the food distribution program?

Recipients of the National Food Distribution Task Force will continue to obtain food from the specified distribution program on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, as previously scheduled.

Only one person, per family is required for pickup of food packages.

The Royal Bahamas Police Force will have lists by zones of all the recipients of the programme who have registered, and will check vehicles to ensure that only one representative per household goes to the specific distribution centre.

Would a complete lockdown guarantee lowered virus cases?

A complete lockdown will allow health officials to evaluate and monitor the spread of COVID-19 on New Providence, and will assist with slowing the spread of the virus.

At the end of the lockdown period, which is August 25th, officials will assess the data to help inform the way forward, and will report on the impact of the lockdown.

When Lockdown Fatigue Sets In

Thousands of Bahamians tuned in to Prime Minister Hubert Minnis’ national address on Monday evening, anticipating a complete lockdown of the country.

And he delivered.

In his national address, Dr. Minnis announced that New Providence would completely shutdown for 7 days, including grocery stores, water depots and private pharmacies.

A complete shutdown is a first for the country as it battles exponential increases in COVID-19 cases. As of Monday, the Ministry of Health confirms 14 additional confirmed cases of COVID-19. This brings the total number of confirmed cases to 1329.

  • 1116  cases are active
  • 191 are recovered cases
  • 19 COVID-19 deaths

When Dr. Minnis first announced that he would address the nation on Monday at 8pm, hundreds of Bahamians headed to grocery stores, where lines meandered shopping plazas, anticipating that Dr. Minnis would announce a complete lockdown. Although not a 2-week lockdown as rumoured, the 7-day lockdown was met with displeasure.

PM’s announcement met with opposition from the public

Social media users took to social media to express their displeasure with the decision to implement a 7-day full lockdown of Grand Bahama and New Providence.

Many posters voiced their opposition on the Facebook page of the Office of the Prime Minister.

Adam Russell called the actions of the Dr. Minnis, “inhumane, heartless and compassionless.” He asked how citizens are to get access to food and medicine. “How are people suppose to feed their babies? How are people able to get medicine?…This ill thought decision will have far greater impact than the COVID-19 virus,” he said.

A user identified as Quietstorm Miller, said Dr. Minnis has shown Bahamians little respect. “Respect is due where respect is given and right now no respect or compassion is been shown to the people in this country with all this foolishness. We need an early election.”

Julie D’Arville said, “For the first time in my life. I feel unsafe to be living in Nassau. No grocery stores. Things will not end well. Praying for the poor. 311 will be busy for the entire 7 days.”

Denise Knowles pleaded with Dr. Minnis to open the grocery stores and asked for Minnis to delay the lockdown to Saturday.

“Mr. PM, there are families out there that don’t have any food and national food centers take a while for the information to process. Sir, I plead open the food stores and water depot so people could at least get food, water and start the lockdown on Saturday. Have mercy on the people and show some love,” Knowles said.

A call to march

Users of social media have used the platform to establish a march in defiance of the newly implemented 7-day full lockdown.

Activists on Facebook have scheduled a march for Bay Street, Nassau, after meeting at Windsor Park at 10am on Tuesday.

The poster of the flyer encouraged marchers to leave home in groups to prevent arrest and practice social distancing upon arrival at the park. He encouraged, “Less talking. Time to stand for something. And remember that protesting is not illegal, its a right.”

Image may contain: one or more people, text that says 'AUGUST 18TH 2020 MARCH ON BAY STREET กูทbดน 10:00 PEOPLE OF THE BAHAMAS MEET AT WINDSOR PARK EAST STREET'