Hon. Philip Brave Davis,Q.C., M.P., – Cat Island, Rum Cay & San Salvador
Leader of The Opposition
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
7th April 2020
Today I have been fielding calls surrounding the latest round of Emergency Orders and the chaos that has ensued at the food stores. Peace and good order are being threatened. You may remember that all PLP MPs and Senators when they spoke in Parliament yesterday warned the government that this would happen.
I am really distressed at the scenes and the panic that are evident. It demeans our people. This is not how they should be treated. I waited for the Prime Minister’s comments this afternoon on the matter but I am still not satisfied that the government understands the gravity of the issue and how what has happened puts their own objective and that of the medical professionals of physical distancing at risk.
In fact people are crowded one on top of another as they fight to get food.
I keep saying we are at war with the virus not with our people.
We have been on the streets and receiving feedback and as a result had asked for the Government’s listening ear and adjustments to be made to the Orders given that the regime would cause more harm than good. While some adjustments have been made by the government, the adjustments do not address the fundamental problem of the perceived food shortages which stand at the root of the public panic and resulting chaos and does not relieve the pressure on the food stores.
Adjustments to the Orders impacting and addressing the unique needs and circumstances of Family Island residents including regularly scheduled mailboat services are steps in the right direction and are welcomed.
I am also pleased that the first responders will get a shopping time for themselves. I thank them all again for their service to our country. I suggested to the Prime Minister that other essential workers like pharmacy personnel and bankers should also be included and I renew this request.
My colleagues and I have discussed these matters and we believe that what might help is greater emphasis on delivery, pre order and pick up services even during the period of lockdown. The government and the grocers can negotiate the details of a functional logistical system where the access to food is not impeded.
The perception of continuous access to food will ease public panic and chaos.
This is clearly a matter that should now be handled by a competent Bahamian professional project manager and not a politician. We do not ourselves pretend to be experts. We think just as the Government has professional medical advice, it should seek advice on project management.
Expanding the number of food distribution outlets, especially to the benefit of those who shop frequently due to personal financial challenges, will go a long way in easing long shopping lines and waiting times.
The government has to do more through constructive engagement to ensure that shoppers are compliant with sanitary, health and physical distancing protocols so as not to undermine or neutralize the objectives of the health guidelines currently in place.
As usual, the Opposition stands ready to assist in this national effort because working together we must and will succeed.