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‘Shanty Towns Have To Go’

WORKS Minister Desmond Bannister in the House of Assembly.

WORKS Minister Desmond Bannister in the House of Assembly.

By RICARDO WELLS

Tribune Staff Reporter

rwells@tribunemedia.net

WORKS Minister Desmond Bannister said the government is working to fully “eradicate” shanty towns, focusing on clean up and removal as opposed to regulating these areas.

Mr Bannister’s comments came days after a massive fire ripped through sections of The Mud shanty town in Abaco for the second time in about five weeks.

More than 30 homes were razed. Local officials and residents told The Tribune the community is under constant threat from fires and environmental hazards borne by illegal building practices.

The Carmichael MP, who spoke to reporters outside of Cabinet yesterday morning, said despite calls for true regulation, the government has not relented on its mandate to “get rid” of shanty towns. 

Mr Bannister said: “So there is no question of regulations. We are looking to get rid of them as the prime minister has indicated and there was a view when we went to Abaco, some of you went to Abaco with me, you saw some of the things that is happening there; we need to get rid of those shanty towns.”

Referring specifically to The Mud, Mr Bannister also said: “That area that was burnt, the Ministry of Public Works will fence that off, clear that up and create a green space and we will continue to get rid of shanty towns.”

Mr Bannister said officials have presented a “full plan” to the Cabinet.

Asked to expound on that plan, he added: “I am sure that plan will be shared with the public by the ministers responsible, but there is a complete plan to eradicate the country of shanty towns; starting with some in New Providence and going straight through the country.”

According to Foreign Affairs Minister Darren Henfield, many of the residents displaced by Sunday’s fire have been “absorbed” by the surrounding community.

Mr Henfield, who was also interviewed by reporters outside of Cabinet yesterday, indicated officials had made available a nearby church to host those displaced by the fire. 

However, he said officials have reported that no one has utilised the facility to date. 

During the fire which ripped through The Mud in late January, approximately 55 homes were destroyed, affecting 170 people.

A 42-year-old man was subsequently arraigned in Abaco’s Magistrate’s Court on ten counts of arson.

Following that fire, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis pledged that the area would be cordoned off and no structures allowed to be rebuilt there.

Comments

John 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Shantytowns are a symptom of other problems existing in the country. And unless and until those problems are addressed , Bannister and the minister before him and any other ministers that come behind will be dismantling shantytowns forever only to see them pop back up. The first problem is affordable housing, even for Bahamians. With a low end apartment going for $500 a month a tenant is required to come up with first and last plus security which will total around $1,500.00. Then the tenant has to connect the utilities which can cost another $600-$1000. And if they are first time renters they will have to find furniture and appliances which can cost another $3000-$5000. So it is not easy. They can probably move into the shantytowns with a bed and just $100. The second issue is discrimination in housing. Because many people do not have good credit or good tenants reputations they cannot find rental accommodations. With the current government threat to prosecute landlords who rent to ill, this will make the problems even worse and so the shantytowns will continue to pop up. Then illegals cannot purchase property or obtain building permits. When they have three or four children it is almost impossible to find living accommodations. So again they turn to the ‘towns. Then there is also the security and avoiding authorities issue. The shantytowns are like a gated community. Everyone who lives there knows everybody else. And since they provide all the basic needs, including employment, a persons can live there for years undetected or without having to come out and interact with the general community. Many US cities including New York and cities in California are facing problems with tent cities. But rather than being occupied primarily by illegal immigrants, these tent cities, made mostly of cardboard boxes and tarpaulin are occupied by homeless and drug addicts. And they pose a problem because they are along the riverbank and large amounts of human waste are drugs paraphernalia, including used needles are dumped into the river. And, just like here, when authorities go in and clear out these tent people. They return a few days later to find they have put their tents back or relocated a short dust away. Some states have sought to pass laws to make it illegal to be homeless. Meaning that the police could move in and arrest and jail anyone living in these tent cities. And there’s still the problem with the drug addicts who pose the greatest health hazard.

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ashley14 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Yes, there are many tent cities here. We just leave them alone, unless they are causing problems. The problem here is I don't think these people want a job. If you want to work in the States you can get a job, even if your illegal. Here is if the employer finds out their paper work is phony they can't fired them. They really don't care if they work. There are also day labor areas and people just pull up and hire people for the day. They all seem to get work at about 10.00 bucks an hour. They aren't getting rich, but they can provide for their families.

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joeblow 6 months, 2 weeks ago

In this country, shanty towns are the natural consequence of allowing large numbers of poor, illiterate, low skilled, non-English speaking illegal immigrants into the country. They moved into bushes and entire communities developed and thrived around this illegality. Lack of law enforcement encouraged and emboldened these squatters and created a separate culture and economy within our country.

Having children one cannot afford further entrenches a person in poverty so that the instinct is just to survive. This creates a vicious cycle of poverty that is difficult to break and no to low cost housing becomes a necessity.

If people would stop having children they cannot afford (use birth control) and get an education to improve their employment prospects while staying at home and saving their money, we would have less of these kinds of issues, but no one wants to take responsibility for their actions! They want the government to do for them what they are unwilling to do for themselves!

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stillwaters 6 months, 2 weeks ago

WORKS Minister Desmond Bannister said the government is working to fully “eradicate” shanty towns. STOP talking about it and start doing it, dammit!!!!!!!!! We the people are TIRED of just blah, blah, blah. Start doing your damn job!!!!!!

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stillwaters 6 months, 2 weeks ago

They are not going to a church where they can be arrested.

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sheeprunner12 6 months, 2 weeks ago

This is what happens when NO government since 1967 has taken steps to stop illegal immigration and the growth of illegal squatter villages on private and public land ....... now it is really out of hand and will cost the government at least $50million to bring under control.

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bogart 6 months, 2 weeks ago

In an zns tv interview in the evening time about 2 weeks ago guests Loftus Roker and Thomas Evans QC, Mr Roker said the laws are to be followed and gave examples where he said no regardless who persons were trying to circumvent the laws......one female he even mentions dtill doesnt talk to him and to another who followed his advice actually came back and thanked him. Laws are there, Simple.

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DDK 6 months, 2 weeks ago

"Mr Bannister said officials have presented a “full plan” to the Cabinet." Please Mr. Bannister, present the plan to The People. Are you not a Minister responsible?

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TalRussell 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Ma Comrades, internal red party polling shows a growing majority those voting back 2017 - want this Imperial red government ousted and given option keeping Shantytowns or the reds - they'd prefer stick with Shantytowns. This minister should've stayed away longer than he did from governor general's red cabinet's swearing in than he did - likes his hands should have forever stayed away from holding that bible. Is possible governor general pass the bible back undo da oath?
All this is, is but a distraction from all murky negativity surrounding Krieger's signature and all other things negatively engulfing Oban. They've managed brungs sludge to the Bahamaland - even before transporting a single barrel sludge oil.
If Brent wants the public maintain any credibility towards the Symonette name - just maybe he'll be one refuse sign work permits.

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TheMadHatter 6 months, 2 weeks ago

"...to eradicate the country of shanty towns; starting with some in New Providence and going straight through the country.”

We gah start in New Providence so we give dem Abaco Haitian time to rebuild. Woods done goin up bey. Govmint already send tractor to clear da ground, so we nailin at night (both kinds of nailin).

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TalRussell 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Ma Comrade The MadHatter, you begin with the eradication from landscape country of Shantytowns - starting with the speedy eradication Shantytown Landlords.You place them on list banks, Know Ya Customers (KYC) list individuals/companies banks are prohibited to open bank accounts for..... and you proceed with the quick confiscation they offending properties... including hefty $1 million fines "per acre" property, for allowing illegal electricity hookups into they properties. In the meantime, just big bag wind by a minister who will never get around eradication Shantytowns..... and since Imperial red government is the largest owner of Shantytown properties, they can start fining themselves $1 million per acre properties.

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Dawes 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Lol ain't nothing going to happen. Every Government says the same thing and nothing happens. This will be no different.

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