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Shanty Town Survey ‘A Lost Chance’

Government representatives canvass shanty town residents in Abaco

Government representatives canvass shanty town residents in Abaco

By RICARDO WELLS

Tribune Staff Reporter

rwells@tribunemedia.net

THE government’s continued refusal to consult “real” stakeholders will restrict any success its shanty town surveys could have, activist Louby Georges claimed yesterday.

Mr Georges feels the Shanty Town Action Task Force has not fully engaged stakeholders but has included a select group of pastors, undercutting the project.

Mr Georges said as a result, the genuine reality of the lives of shanty town residents are not being portrayed to the people that need to know.

“What the government continues to do is call on a handful of Haitian pastors who are going to say ‘yes’ to them anyway,” he said. “They are going to say ‘yes’ because they want to continue enjoying whatever perks they enjoy.”

Mr Georges, referring to the Abaco Association of Haitian Pastors, suggested aspects critical to resolving the legacy problem of shanty town communities in Abaco are being ignored.

“The people have been crying,” he said. “I’ve seen concerns. What will happen to the people?

“They are being forced out. You understand me? They are being forced out. We are not hearing anything about a plan,” he continued.

“What is the plan? The plan cannot simply be to tell people to get out.”

He told The Tribune residents in the communities being targeted for demolition by the government are being “exploited” in their day-to-day activities and are not able to vacate the communities they now call home.

“You are talking about people, yes who may have work permits, but who are being exploited,” he claimed.

“Persons who are not being paid minimum wage. Persons whose NIB, National Insurance isn’t being paid on their behalf.

“They cannot really go and complain or they fear complaining. They fear reporting their employers because those are the individuals who are signing off on their work permits, allowing them to have a job and be in the country legally.

“So we need to take these things into consideration,” he said.

“We also need to take into consideration the fact that the Haitian government and the Haitian Embassy has some major issues, some major problems in terms of issuing passports to its nationals.”

Mr Georges said activists feel the government is not aware or doesn’t care about these critical factors.

“We feel as if no proper consultation was done by the government with the real necessary stakeholders, or with stakeholders or persons who were concerned whom actually have some experience or some knowledge or some background in these sort of works.”

Last week, prominent attorney and human rights activist Fred Smith said the government’s task force never showed a will to “work with residents”.

“I was a member of the board when it was started, I was invited to be a part of it. All that was discussed was destruction. Once that was made clear, I resigned,” he told The Tribune. He has threatened to sue the government over its plan to evict residents who do not have a legal claim to live in shanty town homes.

A 2013 report compiled by the former Christie administration noted there were some 1,200 homes spread across The Mud, Pigeon Peas and The Sandbanks communities in Abaco. On Saturday, Labour Minister Dion Foulkes said he feared that number may have increased in recent years.

In addition to that, he said expansions in several other smaller communities around the island had now grown into major concerns.

The government has implemented a July 31, 2019 deadline for its regulation effort in Abaco. It has a July 31 deadline of this year for New Providence shanty towns.

Last week, officials in New Providence began issuing the first round of notices to shanty town residents, giving them the opportunity to show proof of their legal right to live in their homes.

The government plans to demolish these unregulated communities.

Comments

TheMadHatter 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Oh those poor, poor, exploited Haitians. The government is messing up their plan to invade and take-over the Bahamas. Defending its own people. The nerve of this government!!!

Don't worry. I'm sure some knight on a horse somewhere with the letters QC emblazoned on his armour will ride to Europe and get all the big sissy organizations there to ORDER us to lower our flag, hoist the Haitian flag, commit self-genocide, and turn the keys to the country over to you guys.

We are only Bahamians. Why do we deserve to have a country? You guys deserve 2 countries, especially since your first one done fill-up.

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DDK 9 months, 3 weeks ago

HOG WASH Mr. Activist!!!

It is PAST time for these dangerous areas to be cleared. Those breaking the law should be grateful they are not fined and imprisoned.

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birdiestrachan 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Those shanty towns should not have existed in the first place. It is time for them to come to an end. If their NI payments are not paid. Georges should investigate the matter and all other treatments that are against the law. The shanty towns have been going on to long. it is time for them to come to an end for all concerned,

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John 9 months, 3 weeks ago

When you see this economy rebound as it eventually will, the authorities will even forget that there was any such creature called ‘Shantytown . But today they are being used as a scapegoat to blame other social problems on. And even as the economy rebounds, most who seek refuge in these villages will move out and find traditional housing as their incomes increase. Let’s not forget that many Bahamian settlements grew out of shantytowns even from the time slavery was abolished. The freed slaves (Some of our forefathers) were not allowed to live in certain areas so they settled in places like Fox Hill and Sandilands village and Gambier and Adelaide. And since the freed slaves (some of out fore parents) had no prior income, they used whatever materials were available to build shelters for themselves. And yes they called it home, and didn’t have to worry about no bulldozers coming in the summers’ heat to scatter everything and make them homeless. And the church was almost always the strongest structure in the settlement. A shelter in a time of storm. Aren’t we so proud of how we let little invisible hands turn us against ourselves and destroy the very fabric of Bahamian civilization. Aren’t we proud?

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licks2 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Lost and acting or real dumb again!! Them far flung towns out west were established during times of paleo-colonial establishments. . .and houses were built tp specifications to any other post-revolution slave quarters. . .planned and built to specification of lord-proprietors. . .houses still remain today to show that there were no shanty towns in outlaying settlements. . .which were never slave settlements!! paleo-colonial slave homes in New Providence were built outside the city precincts as bains and grant's towns. Now google the history or pictures of old NP and see what slave homes and paleo-emancipation colonial ex-salves homes looked like!! You need to really do some reading for yourself there man!! Outlaying towns mostly provided land produces while suburban slaves freed blacks were craft/trades/fisher men etc. There never were shanty towns in the Bahamas. . .then or now!!

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birdiestrachan 9 months, 3 weeks ago

John when was slavery abolished?? We have come a long way since then. In this modern era there is no space for shanty towns we must all move forward. There are stores in these arears and even rental property. drop cords and do not forget the fires.

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licks2 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Mr Georges is one silly and Haitian-centrist fake Bahamian who thinks that Haitians are entitled to do what the hell they please in this and any other nation they choose. . .he would have everybody follow rules and conventions of all kind and takes exceptions when "HIS PEOPLE" are tasked to act somewhat civilized when abiding in the nation of others!!!

MR GEORGES IS NO FRIEND, BROTHER OR FAIR PLAYER WITH BAHAMIANS AND THEIR HOMELAND!! HE IS ADVOCATE FOR HAITIANS. . .HE CARES NOT IF LEGAL OR ILLEGAL. . .HE DESPISE BAHAMIANS. . .THEIR LAWS. . .THEIR RIGHT TO LIFE WITHOUT INTERFERENCE FROM OUTSIDE FORCES. . .HE WILL NEVER LIKE THEM EVEN IF HE SAYS "DON'T GET ME WRONG. . .BAHAMIANS HAVE THEIR RIGHTS TOO". . .HE IS NO BAHAMIAN IN HEART. . .HE JUST HAPPENS TO BE BORN HERE. . .ARTICLE 7 OF THE CONSTITUTION PREVENTS US FROM "KICKING HIS FAKE TAIL OUT". BUT BELIEVE YOU ME. . .THAT MAN IS NO FRIEND OF THE BAHAMAS. . .HIS HEART IS HAITIAN. . .HAITIAN ALONE!!

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bogart 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Mr Georges points out a critical factor that the Bahamian government does not care...needs to take into consoderation that the "Haitian government and the Haitian Embassy has some major issues some major problems in terms of issuing passports to its nationals."......dis crap utter nonsense has been going on fer toooo long yuccking up the vexation of da Bahamian people.....dis seems is a strategic plan to undrmine the stability of a Sovereign nation of the Bahamas.....the fact da Haitian government or Its Haitian Embassy cannot get its shit together is not a Bahamian problem !!!!!!!!....how hard is it to get a travel paper with a Haitian govt stamp on it......??stop inciting Bahamians who have been tolerating illegal shantytowns fer years only be be getting goosied ...not paying NIB...letting unscrupulous employers to continue...these continuous excuses are only hardening the feelings of Bahamians towards many Haitians .

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TheMadHatter 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Exactly.

The key solution is to raid places of employment. Quiet, nice raids. Just take 20 officers, walk in thru back door and lock it. Station 2 men there. The rest walk to front and lock that door. 5 men outside, 15 inside.

Now ask who you is?

$10,000 fine to the bossman for each violation found.

A few of these made public, and miracles will start to happen.

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