Clean Environment Critical to Economy, says Minister


Dr. Hubert Minnis/ Minister of Health

Dr. Hon. Hubert Minnis/ Minister of Health

NASSAU, Bahamas – Minister of Health and Social Development Dr. the Hon. Hubert A. Minnis told employees of the Department of Environmental Health Services (DEHS) that they are an important link in the socio-economic development of The Bahamas as their job performances can have either a positive or negative impact on the economy.

Dr. Minnis said this is particularly so as it relates to the tourism product in which one half of the complaints from visitors to the island centre on the environment.

Addressing a one-day Zone Initiative Workshop designed to provide employees with an outline of the new Zone Initiative Programme he announced in the House of Assembly on Wednesday, October 3, Dr. Minnis told participants that 50 per cent of visitor complaints relate to the “unhealthy state of affairs of the environment.”

The Minister said the Government, through the ministry and the Department, has implemented the Zone Initiative Programme, which calls for New Providence to be divided into eight zones.

He said the Grounds and Beautification Division has also been reorganized to give more focused attention to the cleaning and maintenance of public parks and spaces in The Bahamas.

Dr. Minnis pointed out that as tourism accounts for almost 70 per cent of the country’s employment through direct or indirect employment, while simultaneously accounting for 60 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), environmental health and sanitation workers will have to play a key role in the sustainability of that pillar of the economy.

“What those figures basically point out is that regardless of how you may feel, you are probably the most important link in the economic survival of the entire Bahamas because if their complaints – related to us – are in excess of 50 per cent and the majority of them feel that they will not return because of our environment, then that places us in an extremely important role,” Dr. Minnis said.

“It is very important for all of us to understand the significance of the role we must play with regards to maintaining a safe and clean environment because we hold the brunt of the economy in our hands and if we fail, that could have negative consequences on the entire economy,” he added.

Dr. Minnis told the workers that it is “our duty to protect ourselves, our country and our entire economy.”

Each zone in the Zone Initiative Programme will be serviced by a Health Inspector, Shift Supervisor and staff complement who the Minister said have been given the adequate equipment necessary to carry out their duties.

Dr. Minnis said the measures will make each team accountable for the zones within which they are assigned. This, he said, will lead to the better management of New Providence as an entity.

“If there is an increase in rodents in a particular zone, we will be able to deal with it appropriately,” Dr. Minnis said. “If there is a problem with derelict vehicles, we will be able to deal with it effectively and if there is an increase in vectors, they will know about it and be able to deal with it effectively.

“The same thing would happen with issues regarding drainage and potholes,” Dr. Minnis said. “Essentially, these teams will be in charge of an island within an island so that we can ensure that out island remains in a constant state of cleanliness.”

Dr. Minnis said the ministry will introduce a sense of competition and at the end of each year assess which zone has been best maintained. The winners will be presented with a Minister’s Floating Cup and treated to a Minister’s party.