Minister of Transport and Housing the Hon. JoBeth Coleby-Davis explained that for the 2023/2024 budget period, the proposed expenditure for the Meteorology Department, which comes under the umbrella of the Ministry, is over $2.4 million.
“Plans for this budget period include the completion of storm surge risk model for the entire Bahamas, the installation of an additional six new Automatic Weather stations in the new airport in the Berry Islands, in North Andros, Central and North Abaco and North and South Abaco, the continuation of work on the Department’s Quality Management System toward ISO Certification, and the upgrade of all meteorological equipment at the forecast offices in New Providence and Freeport.”
The Housing and Transport Minister was speaking during her Contribution to the 2023/24 Budget Debate in the House of Assembly, Wednesday, June 21, 2023.
She added that of great importance is the allocation of $205,000 to hire 15 Bahamians to be trained as Meteorological Observers and Meteorological Engineers.
Minister Coleby-Davis said the Ministry announced the launch of the Niccolo P. Small Meteorology Programme.
“Named in honor of first Bahamian Director of The Bahamas Meteorology Department, the cadet programme will foster positive leadership development and professional career preparation in the field of meteorology in The Bahamas, support and encourage a culture of academic excellence in science and mathematics, build a highly trained cadre of youths in the field of meteorology to understand the impact of climate change on The Bahamas and encourage women to join STEM occupations.”
She said Bahamian students enrolled in high school and college/university, between the age of 14 to 25 are invited to apply for enrollment in the programme. Applicants will receive a stipend. Application Forms can be obtained by emailing email@example.com or collected from the Department of Meteorology and the Ministry of Transport and Housing.
Minister Coleby-Davis stated that the Road Traffic Department of her Ministry is expected to continue to be a major source of revenue to the Government.
“In the 2023/2024 budget period, the Road Traffic Department is projecting income of more than $56 million dollars. As outlined in Head 54, the Department is allocated over $6.9 million dollars for recurrent expenditure.”
She noted that in In 2022, the Department:
• Launched and began the issuance of commercial driver’s licences. To date, over 280 commercial driver’s licences have been issued;
• Continued the launch of Transportation Management System (TMS) services in the Family Islands; with San Salvador fully online;
• Re-established the National Road Safety Council with representation from the Ministry of Education, Technical & Vocational Training, Ministry of Public Works and Utilities, Ministry of Health & Wellness, and the Royal Bahamas Police Force;
• Formed a stronger working partnership with stakeholders such as The Bahamas Taxicab Union and The Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association;
• Launched the Taxi Industry Service Improvement Project; and
• Successfully hosted Road Safety Awareness Week 2023 – with observances held on all major Family Islands.
Minister Coleby-Davis said plans for this budget period include, the opening of a Road Traffic office in Eight Mile Rock, Grand Bahama by the end of August and offices in Orange Creek and New Bight, Cat Island by the end of October 2023.
She explained that offices in Mayaguana and Inagua should be ready by the end of December 2023. The Crooked Island office will provide mobile services to Acklins and Long Cay and should also be ready by the end of December.
“The new offices will ensure the efficient collection of revenue by the Department, create employment opportunities in those islands, and strengthen our efforts to promote road safety.”
The Minister said a new franchise inspection process will be instituted by May 2024 to ensure the appropriateness of all vehicles.
“An additional 40 Supervisors will be employed at Road Traffic Offices throughout The Bahamas with the primary responsibility of enforcing the Road Traffic Act for all Franchise Holders and Public Service Drivers.
She added that the Mobile Unit will be reconstituted in New Providence. In support of a stronger vehicle inspection regime, the Department intends to move from a manual inspection process to an automated system and digital-aided approach that will include testing of brakes, suspension and shock systems, wheel alignment and light intensity.
Minister Coleby-Davis said, “The new inspection regime will not inconvenience or prohibit vehicles from being on the road, rather the new process will be designed to ensure that our vehicles are safe.”
By LLONELLA GILBERT/Bahamas Information Services