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Subpar Shanty Houses Demolished After Census

A shanty town in New Providence.

A shanty town in New Providence.

By KHRISNA RUSSELL

Deputy Chief Reporter

krussell@tribunemedia.net

ANY structure within shanty towns across the country that does not adhere to building codes will be “demolished”, Labour Minister Dion Foulkes said yesterday as he announced a new date for the start of the government’s census of residents living in these illegal residential areas.

The national survey of shanty town residents, which has been several times delayed, will now begin this Sunday from 2pm to 5pm.

Mr Foulkes, who is chairman of the government-appointed shanty town committee, did not say when demolition is expected to begin. However the minister told The Tribune in March that officials would use the summer months so as not to disrupt the academic year of children who are enrolled in school. This, he said, was in a bid to treat the issue with sensitivity.

The government wants to ascertain, through a 13 question survey, how many residents are in each shanty town, the age groups, whether the children are in school and whether there are any people living there with disabilities among other things.

He spoke on the issue before going into a Cabinet meeting yesterday morning.

Mr Foulkes said: “The most important thing in the exercise that we are doing is that we want to be sensitive and humane to all of the residents throughout the shanty towns in the country.

“Abaco, as you know The Mud and the Pigeon Peas and the Sand Banks and the Farm Lands at Treasure Cay, is probably the largest area outside of New Providence. They are well-developed towns and they have everything - running water, they’ve got electricity (and) they even have some gaming houses present.

“The prime minister has given myself and also (North Abaco MP Darren) Henfield and other Cabinet ministers the mandate to have them all regulated. At the end of the day that means that any home that is not built to the Ministry of Works code will be demolished,” he also said.

Mr Foulkes added the government has sought the opinions of Haitian community leaders to ensure the survey meets its mandate.

“We have met with the Haitian Bahamian Association. We have met with the Haitian Pastors League, some 16 of them. We have met with Rights Bahamas, which is Joe Darville and Fred Smith (QC). We have met with the Anglican church, the Catholic church, the Seventh-Day Adventist church.

“We have met with many, many different groups to consult. The majority of Haitian Bahamians and Haitian nationals attend three churches.

“On Thursday we are going to have the second meeting with about 20 Haitian pastors to seek their assistance in conducting this survey on Sunday. They have already pledged their support and we are hopeful that some of them will actually go with the survey teams to make the process as simple as possible.”

Mr Foulkes said there is no cost attached to the exercise as everyone involved are active government employees and currently there is a team working in Abaco mulling over housing alternatives for residents.

“The government has the will and the prime minister has the political will to regulate all unregulated communities,” he added.

For his part, Mr Henfield said many of those living in shanty towns want them to be improved and begin transition to the Bahamian way of living.

He said: “We as government have a holistic approach as to how we deal with these unregulated communities and we are determined to remove them from the landscape of the Bahamas. But we’ll do so in a humane fashion and I think Bahamians need to appreciate that these things didn’t develop overnight and so it won’t be solved overnight, but through shared determination and will we will address this problem in our country.

“Most Haitian Bahamians that I speak to, or individuals of Haitian origin around that I speak to, do not want these communities. They do not wish to see these communities existing in the Bahamas. They would like to come and live in regular communities like regular Bahamians. However it must be emphasised that not only Haitians live in these communities, there are also some Bahamians that live in these communities who have names that are historical to our country.”

There are 11 shanty towns in New Providence – eight of which are in the southwest part of the island and the remaining three in the eastern district.

Four others are in Grand Bahama along with several shanty towns in North Eleuthera, North Andros and Abaco.

Comments

bogart 1 year, 2 months ago

Unquestionably the sovereign govt The Commonwealth of the Bahamas will not do anything inhumamely ...repeated a gazillion times.......but where is the Haitian Ambasssdor as representative of the Haitian ciitizens in the shantytowns to oversee any transition...????.......under what facilities should his citizens be forcebly relocated how many persons per approved living quarterss???........ Who will now have to bear the greatly increased costs of living that these Citizens who lived in subpar living and likely below poverty level conditions now have to deal with ??? HOW COME ON ALL DESE MAJOR NATIONAL ISSUES INVOLVING ONE OR A THOUSAND PLUS HATIAN CITIZENS THERE IS NO MENTION OF THE LAWFULLY RECOGNISED HAITIAN AMBASSADOR IN ANYTHING TO DO WITH HIS CITIZENS.......??? ..

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DDK 1 year, 2 months ago

Also, why is there no mention of the ownership of the land which has been illegally built on and fines for doing same? Why is there no mention as to those in these shanty towns who are here illegally? If the shanty folk are legal they need to BUY land upon which to build, or RENT dwellings like the rest of us. Why all this kid glove nonsense??? Too much playing politics at the expense of the Bahamian people.

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sheeprunner12 1 year, 2 months ago

Soooooo, will Dion now begin cherry-picking which plywood/tin homes will be demolished????

HMMMMMMMMM ........... another smelly rat on the run

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licks2 1 year, 2 months ago

THAT'S THE FIRST THING CAME TO MY MIND. . . THE PEOPLE WILL "HAVE A BABY" ON THEM FOR THAT!

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TalRussell 1 year, 2 months ago

Comrades, first it shouldn't take minister be schooled engineering to take but one 20 minute walk through each the 35 some Shantytowns - to quickly come conclusion that none what he's seeing DOES NOT meets town planning or health requirements.... maybe the fact that the land is either being held trust by the Queen of England - or the Shantytowns property owners are financially benefiting from illegal, unsafe, unhealthy, overcrowded cesspits of a FAKE subdivisions. Send in the damn bulldozers... Mr. Minister, just follow the illegal electricity lines and sewage pipes hookups. The many thousands residents got there by themselves - without official government approval or assistance - so should they be made VACATE without the public purse footing the millions dollars relocation costs they are pretending will not be spent by this Imperial red cabinet. The Censuses alone goin set public purse back $3 million for what to tell you what can be seen even by the naked eyes any red jackass cabinet minister. The constitution calls Bahamaland be represented by da Queen, da governor general, the House of Assembly and the senate - says nothing about disgusting, illegal Shantytowns being entitled to costly fair representation.

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DDK 1 year, 2 months ago

Why, Comrade! Talking REAL SENSE today!!

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ohdrap4 1 year, 2 months ago

that officials would use the summer months so as not to disrupt the academic year of children who are enrolled in school. This, he said, was in a bid to treat the issue with sensitivity.

I am renting out my nephew Oliver so people can keep their shack a little longer.

.. One boy, Boy for sale. He's going cheap. Only seven guineas. That -- or thereabouts.

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Emac 1 year, 2 months ago

Lol...man how you could bring good Oliver in this

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OldFort2012 1 year, 2 months ago

If they are going to knock down all properties not built to code, they might as well start with Parliament. I bet that building would not pass.And then continue and bulldoze everything Over-The-Hill.

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TheMadHatter 1 year, 2 months ago

Maybe we can contract a Canadian engineering firm for like 20 million dollars to come in and investigate if the shacks are up to code. LOL.

Maybe we can cancel all old folks pension and medicine and all NIB payouts for unemployment or single mother food assistance and stop fixing potholes and cut all govt salaries by 20% and triple all NIB contributions and...

Use the money to build new homes for anyone of Haitian descent who wants one....so that they dont declare war on us and burn our houses and kill us with machetes. Then we can go to their newly built homes and mow their yards and clean and do laundry for them so that they can be elevated to the position of rightful owners of the Bahamas which we all know (by actions, not words) that they truly are.

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DDK 1 year, 2 months ago

Good one! That's about the size of it!

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Dawes 1 year, 2 months ago

You forget that before we get that Canadian firm we would need a forensic audit to see what happened (even though we all know). As its FNM that will be E&Y, if it was PLP then Grant Thornton i think.

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TalRussell 1 year, 2 months ago

Ma Comrades, if you been pocketing rents from Shantytown tenants and the land is either not deeded to you - or if deeded not be used anything other than farm lands - why no prosecutions... and why no audits ordered by KP. Is there anyone in red cabinet, sitting as a red MP or chairing a government board or department - with current or past direct/indirect connections Shantytown lands?

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Craig 1 year, 2 months ago

Why only focus on buildings in Shanty towns that don't adhere to Building Codes? Surely the good Minister and those whose technical knowledge he is relying on, know that there are a substantial amount of buildings in Nassau that do not adhere to Building Codes and many of these have the most egregious of code violations. A great deal of these non-code compliant buildings are prominent Government buildings that Ministers of Government occupy everyday. Perhaps they should modify their position in this matter and eliminate the term "Building Codes" from any statements they make. Use some other term as it implies Building Code violations primarily occur only in Shanty towns. More disturbingly taken literally this would suggest that the Government is unfairly targeting the immigrant population as applying this logic elsewhere on this island and throughout the Bahamas for that matter, would involve a substantial amount of demolition work, which of course is ridiculous!!

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TalRussell 1 year, 2 months ago

Ma Comrade Craig, the chief focus is on Shantytowns because one is by illegal design and intent presenting serious health and illegal immigration issues, with the other suffering under years deliberate neglect. The case can be made for a nation suffering under massive governing debt and outright neglect and carried out by administrations comprised both main political parties. Tourism can no longer gamble with the open and clear dangers inherent Shantytowns. The war on Shantytowns must be direct and relentlessly targeted at the man's, some politicians AND YES, EVEN ANY GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS- long suspected having financially benefited from turning blind eyes either equally and directly/indirectly as SLUM LANDLORDS or their agents. Time citizens get all public face Shantytowns nasty.

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Craig 1 year, 2 months ago

What you say may be correct, to a degree that is, all I am saying now, is don't use Building Code violations as the reason for the demolitions. Egregious Building Code violations abound in this Nation and I don't see any other buildings being demolished. Call it what it is, to use your term, it is a "war on Shantytowns".

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TalRussell 1 year, 2 months ago

Ma Comrade Craig, my war neither discriminates by skin colour, class, nationality nor position - nor take hostages. All the immigration reinforcements will be meaningless - unless we eradicate every one their illegal health risks dwelling areas... but it would be unfair not equally declare war on slum shantytown landlords, and employers hiring of undocumented workers. We also have start issuing stiff financial, diplomatic and trade penalties to a complicit in the act Haitian government. All Haitian government politicians should be considered not welcomed in the Bahamaland - if the complicity continues.... along with restrictions citizens to travel Haiti. No more money transfers out Bahamaland to Haiti, no exceptions.

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DDK 1 year, 2 months ago

Are you in cahoots with the learned QC?

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Sickened 1 year, 2 months ago

I hope that one of the questions is... "To whom do you pay your weekly/monthly rent?".

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Sickened 1 year, 2 months ago

Those derelict cars in the picture will probably not be removed either because they are considered 'bedrooms'.

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SP 1 year, 2 months ago

While "the committee" is running around talking about "the most important thing in the exercise that we are doing is that we want to be sensitive and humane" Haitians are breaking every law in the country, running circles around these clowns and laughing all the way to Western Union sending funds back home to bring in more illegals!

The governments' new duck, dodge, and parry moves are to only knock down "subpar" structures in the shanty towns.

This means an "upgraded" version of illegal shanty towns still being allowed, which ultimately translates to NO CHANGE WHATSOEVER leaving all illegal activities and Haitian parallel economy totally in tack to carry on unabated!

Dion Foulkes just needs to add a "little shuffle and hair dye" to his doubletalk, backsliding, and bullshyt and we'll have another Perry Christie complete with smoke, mirrors, and flimflam.

We are already sick of this backsliding FNM government and definitely, DO NOT want the PLP back regardless what they put on the table!

So where do we go from here, and how soon can we get on with it?

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Sickened 1 year, 2 months ago

I bet you on 'survey day' that these homes will have 1/10th of the normal population. And, children, especially babies, will be passed around from backdoor to backdoor. Babies will be pinched so that the evil surveyors will see how 'hungry' they are. Woe is me!!!

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Chucky 1 year, 2 months ago

Why all the Bull Crap? Lets just admit what this is; its another one of our NASTY A(SS) BAHAMIAN moves to further impoverish the Haitian people in hopes that some will leave, and hope that fewer will come.

Why lie, why try and hide it. Man up and say what you want and that you're going to do it.

We're a predominantly black country; and nobody nowhere will be surprised by any nastiness done by our kind. Look at our homeland, nasty brutal deeds done every day.

Good thing bout us Black folks is that as long as we have "someone kind who's lower on the pole, someone to hate, despise etc etc, " then we be all for it. Suppose it makes us feel like we be better than someone other kind .........

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bogart 1 year, 2 months ago

Bey Tal youse on a roll today.....youse talking plenty real sense like you mussey in da line up fer consultant position ...go Tal go...!!

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TigerB 1 year, 2 months ago

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by TigerB

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