WORKS Minister Desmond Bannister in the House of Assembly.
By RICARDO WELLS
Tribune Staff Reporter
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.