Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Response, the Hon. Myles K. LaRoda, met with Chinese Ambassador to The Bahamas, Her Excellency Dai Qingli, and delegation, (Monday, July 4) at the National Emergency Management Agency’s (NEMA) Headquarters, Gladstone Road and NEMA’s Way. State-Minister LaRoda was accompanied by Mr. Carl F. Smith, Permanent Secretary, the Office of the Prime Minister’s Disaster Management Unit; Mrs. Isla Deane, Under Secretary, the Office of the Prime Minister’s Disaster Management Unit; Captain Stephen Russell, Director, NEMA and Mrs. Gayle Outten-Moncur, Deputy Director, NEMA. Ambassador Qingli was accompanied by officials from the Chinese Embassy, Bahamas.
Her Excellency and delegation were briefed on the country’s disaster management procedures – mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery – prior to undertaking a tour of NEMA’s facilities. Her Excellency also presented NEMA officials with KN95 masks. The visit, tour and discussions coincided with the commemoration of the 25th anniversary of “maintaining cordial and productive” diplomatic relations between China and The Bahamas.
“At this 25th anniversary, we will be committed to bringing forward our relationship in all areas with your Government and people,” Ambassador Qingli said. “Disaster Response is an important area. We understand how much The Bahamas has suffered (as a result of Hurricane) Dorian and from a number of extreme weather events. We wanted to learn more about your disaster prevention, response, management, and relief efforts so that we will know how best to direct our efforts.
“We tried our best to be of help (in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian) by extending some emergency assistance both in cash and kind in Grand Bahama and Abaco,” Her Excellency added. State-Minister LaRoda told his guests that The Bahamas was appreciative of the mutual respect in terms of relations between the two countries dating back 25 years.
The State-Minister said 50 per cent of the country’s National Debt, was directly related to damages from Hurricanes, with Hurricane Dorian alone accounting for $3.4Billion in damages. Mr. LaRoda said an area of interest for The Bahamas, was in the technology behind China’s modular home construction process.
“We can learn a lot from the Chinese with regards to your modular home productions. We look at Dorian and what we had to deal with in terms of providing temporary housing for persons who were displaced. Dorian came with a wall of 20ft high sustained storm surge and as a result, numerous homes were destroyed which meant that we had to provide temporary shelter for those persons.
“I would have seen, at the start of the COVID-19 Pandemic, how China was able to mobilize a hospital in a matter of days. That was very impressive. If we had that kind of technology or assistance, we would be able to mobilize and assist families who have been displaced from these natural disasters in a shorter time. We sit in the middle of hurricane alley. (Hurricanes) are a way of life for us, but if we can get assistance in terms of providing temporary, comfortable, housing accommodations until the affected persons can get back on their feet, that would help us tremendously in terms of getting people’s lives back in order,” State- Minister LaRoda added.
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