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150 Families Still Living In Shanty Town Homes

One of the government's shanty town notices posted last month.

One of the government's shanty town notices posted last month.

By AVA TURNQUEST

Tribune Chief Reporter

aturnquest@tribunemedia.net

MORE than 100 families are believed to still reside in shanty towns across New Providence with the government's eviction deadline less than two weeks away.

Haitian Pastors League President Dr Jean Paul Charles told The Tribune he expected that number to rise as his group had not included individuals who are living on their own in their count.

However, he said he did not think the number of families still living in all 11 shanty towns in the capital exceeds 150.

Dr Charles said while he believed the government will follow through with its August 10 deadline, he did not think mass evictions will be immediate and there will be more time to relocate families.

"We formed a subcommittee," he said, "and what they have reported (is) we have under 150 families. Those are the people who really need help. By the end of this week that list will be higher, because they only recorded the families.

"We are all on the ground, we are on the same page," Dr Charles continued, "I know they can't be living like that but the process is painful. We try to do anything we can, and as we appeal to the government we are saying the law should be in one hand but in the other hand should be compassion.

"They have been living there for so long, if they are qualified and have the money, why not allow them an opportunity to purchase? The government is politics, but the Bahamian people at large I think would do that.

"It will be the deadline, I think the government will respect the deadline. But I don't think they will just do everything in one day, I think they will start exactly on August 10 and still see how we can relocate those people."

Residents in New Providence were given until August 10 to vacate their homes before the structures are bulldozed, while evictions for those in Abaco are slated for next year.

The Haitian Pastors League's appeal to the government for residents to be given first preference to purchase the land echoes suggestions made by Haitian government representative Karl Henri Chatelier to local media last week.

Mr Chatelier's remarks elicited a harsh rebuke from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which stated it would not tolerate external interference in Bahamian domestic affairs.

His suggestions, as first assistant secretary in the Haitian Embassy, included: renovations that will bring shanty town residences up to building codes, leasing the land, and extending the eviction deadline.

Meanwhile, approximately 200 residents of shanty towns in New Providence and Abaco, with a non-governmental organisation called Respect Our Homes Limited (ROHL), have expressed intent to fight evictions in court.

Their attorney Fred Smith QC has asked the government to stall shanty town evictions pending looming court action - but it was rejected by Attorney General Carl Bethel.

Yesterday, Labour Minister Dion Foulkes reiterated the August 10 deadline was "irrevocable".

He also reaffirmed Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis' mandate that the reclaimed land be used for government low cost housing. Mr Foulkes stressed access to these subdivisions will be made available to all Bahamians, with no special preference for any group.

"We are advised that all of the land that's involved with this matter is owned by the government," said Mr Foulkes, who heads the Shanty Town Action Task Force.

"All 11 of the shanty towns (in New Providence) without exception are leased land and leased for farming purposes. There is absolutely no authority for any of the residents to build a home.

"We are conducting an intensive and thorough investigation with respect to lands and surveys and the building controls division of the Ministry of Works to ensure that that is the case. We want to make sure that the government conforms with all of our laws and regulations in the country.

"With respect to Rights Bahamas and their attempt to take this matter to court, that is their right. We live in a democratic society and any group or any individual who resides in The Bahamas can access our courts, but as you know the attorney general represents the government and we are confident that we are standing on good legal grounds."

Comments

licks2 4 months, 2 weeks ago

They have the money to buy the land but don't have money to move somewhere else? SHANTY TOWNS ARE NO MORE. . .only Bahamians should be considered. . .for land that is. . .NON-BAHAMIANS ARE NOT CONSIDERED!! Be that as it may. . .NO SHANTY TOWNS PERIOD!!

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TalRussell 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Now that Imperial red shirts control all but four House of Assembly (HOA) seats - comrade red MP's, should use their majority to pass a Bill, calling for a DNA swab be taken for any and all posing as citizens or as being born's on soil any colony of islands.... I say this because a vast number natives has have some lick da Haitian blood in them.... some reports say the number can be as high as 63.47% entire population. Would be good knows who all but the four we know of who does sit up in HOA - does too also have both some Africans and creoles passed down through their bloodlines? { Can't make this up }.

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TheMadHatter 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Tal - you are really amazing. Can i offer you a fully paid one-way ticket to Kenya to go live with Obama's brother?

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TalRussell 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Ma Comrade TheMad, you're not shocking me by your response even after having been provided with simple statistics that creole language may have been spoken among population of what would later become colony of islands - yes, maybe even long before the Englishman's loyalists had even thought set sail we way.... maybe even before the Africans got here. { Be foolish make such stuff up }. Sometimes unexplained but nevertheless factual stuff - just has ways flows into my thinking that does not reach others.... you being one.

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licks2 4 months, 2 weeks ago

That's strange since the first black person came in this area during the mid 1600s. . .blacks in Haiti started this way in the mid 1800. . .British ruled here until 1964. . .with a European embargo against Haiti who owed war reparations to France. . .forced on them by Britain and the USA. . .they started coming this way during the late 60s when the Bahamas begun to see economic boom. . .I can remember when creole was nowhere spoken in this nation!! Before the Duvalier government Haiti as under the Americans. . .they had little to leave their nation until Duvalier too over and started killing and exploiting them! From the late 1800s to the early 1970 the "gee chee" language here was Turks and Caicos, Jamaican, and other people from down south. . .who can here as teachers, policemen etc. . .no Haitians en-mass. . .no Cuban en-mass!! The majority were from Turks and Caicos. The earlier Haitians did not live in shanty towns. . .they lived in ordinary communities. . .shanty towns came in with the over-crowding in the early 70s. . .they hid in the bushes to hide how many of them were here!!

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TalRussell 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Ma Comrade Licks, does you knows Weed was the most profitable of Crops grown on colony islands plantations - and the buyer were the English King's government across da pond. We two see sames things but differently. You and I just get and process different images through we brain's.

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truetruebahamian 4 months, 2 weeks ago

They have notice, if I was one of them I would understand. They are the creators of their own problems and cannot expect the rest of the world to assist illegal living or their sad family situations. I would contribute to a spay and neuter for hopeless mothers and fathers rather than pay later for their unwanted progeny. RDS

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TheMadHatter 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Tal -all is good my friend. I respect you greatly as a fellow commentator. Sometimes you knock me off my tracks - but enjoy it. Best wishes to you.

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Giordano 4 months, 2 weeks ago

This is really bad planning and could be very consequentially, very negative in long and short term politically because it exposes,clearly once again,the lack of vission and good leadership quality coming from newly elected officials who didn't do their homework before implementing such abuse against families. Normally,a measurement like that,affecting local families,should start by building the appropriate homes,far before implementing any official eviction in order to move those evicted with all the dignity and respect that those unfortunates deserve,into new homes. That abuse,really can swell and could bring very bad consequences for both : leaders & followers. With this,local leaders are depriving themselves of trust,care and accountability. Those people are still humans with dignity and respect.

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joeblow 4 months, 2 weeks ago

I have a feeling we will soon see a drop in the remittances to Haiti as they learn what it takes to survive in the Bahamas!

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