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Questions Over Shanty Town Census

A shanty town in New Providence.

A shanty town in New Providence.

By KHRISNA RUSSELL

Deputy Chief Reporter

krussell@tribunemedia.net

THE government’s decision to conduct a census starting with shanty towns in New Providence tomorrow has come as a surprise to Haitian community leaders who stressed the success of these efforts is predicated heavily on their involvement.

Activist Louby Georges was adamant the exercise could “fail” rendering it a waste of resources in the absence of a public education campaign to sensitise shanty town dwellers of what they could expect when officials descend upon the community. Without this, he said residents will “run and hide” at the sight of officials.

Meanwhile, Dr Jean Paul Charles, president of the Haitian League of Pastors said while he had no knowledge of plans for a government census, his organisation would support it with the right approach.

On Wednesday, Labour Minister Dion Foulkes revealed 11 teams were being trained ahead of a census exercise in all 11 shanty towns spread across the capital. It is expected to begin tomorrow.

He said the intention was f or the government to glean an understanding of the demographics involved as it moves to clean up the capital and more broadly the country.

“Not knocking the idea, but I don’t think it make sense to jump in there this week without doing any sort of public education campaign,” Mr Georges said. “I think this will be a fruitless exercise, and a waste of resources if it’s not done in conjunction or collaboration with the Haitian community itself then it will fail.

“Unless they are gonna go on some law of average, there is no way they would get any amount of information close to what they are looking for and help them make determinations moving forward.”

He continued: “You doing this in the height of the immigration talks going around town, people are going to be running hiding, and even if you get someone to talk to you I doubt it will be accurate. You need a public education campaign to help to get those individuals to understand why it’s important to have a census, so they can deal with shanty towns.

“No education, no campaign, you can’t just jump up; don’t just launch it, train people -  collaborate with persons known and already trusted in the Haitian community, join forces with them and have an educational campaign through churches and activities in those communities.

“Talk to the people and sensitise them.”

Mr Foulkes said the purpose of the survey is to ascertain exactly how many residents are in each shanty town, their ages, how many are in school, how many are working and whether there are any disability issues.

These kinds of questions among others will make up the census to enable to government to execute its plan to eradicate shanty towns in the best way.

For his part, Dr Paul Charles said his last meeting with government officials a month ago focused on accommodations for shanty town residents when the government began its work in removing them.

He said: “We were at a meeting about a month ago and the government said they were going to provide some place for people before they do anything. That’s the last thing I knew last month.

“This news of a census is new to me. I know that they said they were coming with a solution to shanty towns. It’s a good thing, but at the same time what about the people who live there?

“Its success would be based on the support of Haitian pastors and at the same time in order for the Haitian pastors to get on board we need at first for the government to speak with us.”

The government’s shanty town committee, has toured many of the shanty towns in The Bahamas and has narrowed down who the Bahamian landowners are. The government, Mr Foulkes said, intends to meet with these people to get a full understanding of the shanty town issue.

While there is no clear indication at this point when the exercise will be completed in New Providence, the minister said census officials will focus their attention on the Family Islands when this is done.

This comes after the committee last Sunday toured the Farm Lands, Sand Banks, the Mud and Pigeon Peas shanty towns in Abaco where they got a sobering picture of the urgent need to overhaul these areas.

Comments

joeblow 1 year, 3 months ago

The police will treat a Bahamian like a dog if they get a ticket for parking in a non-parking area, but people can enter this country illegally have babies, hide for eighteen years or more, squat on Bahamian land, construct buildings not up to code etc and we have to extend certain courtesies to them to address shanty town concerns?

A census is a waste of time. Incremental raids and round ups with detention and appearance before a magistrate within 48 hrs for those who cannot provide evidence to support why they are here. Deportation if not constitutionally entitled to be here. That is what we need! That is all we need!

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sealice 1 year, 3 months ago

and then you gotta be fluckin nice when you go around and try figure out the mess that consecutive generations of illegal activity has created??

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birdiestrachan 1 year, 3 months ago

Charles , Georges and the drama king run things. Foulkes knows that so what is he talking about.

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DDK 1 year, 3 months ago

Amazing these non-Bahamians telling our Government what to do and not to do. If they want to get into politics there is a whole big island waiting or them just to our south-east.

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Aegeaon 1 year, 3 months ago

Funny. I see a bunch of misled Bahamians against a set of poor people whose circumstances are out of their control. I see deportation as necessary. But your anger should look over to gangbangers with guns that can kill children and infants. These Haitians are the least of our problems.

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sealice 1 year, 3 months ago

Don't let the TonTon hear you stay tings like dat... ya ga dead fast....

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joeblow 1 year, 3 months ago

We intend to do both things simultaneously. In fact when we deport some of the illegal riff-raff we will be deporting gangbangers with guns!! Its a win win for us!!

Haitians (illegal) are a significant part of all our problems!!!

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TalRussell 1 year, 3 months ago

You'd think Comrade "Brave" having been presented with the Oban hysteria - not mention Shantytowns along so many other deceptive ways Imperial reds - the Queen's opposition, would've done ordered all PLP tanks into position outside Churchhill Building.

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TheMadHatter 1 year, 3 months ago

We have a Haitian League of Pastors??? LOL. LOL. LOL. LOL. LOL. LOL. LOL. LOL

Dr. Charles ... don't worry, the Government already has a place "prepared" for them, it's called Inagua.

Aegeaon, you need to lay off the funny coloured pills buddy.

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sealice 1 year, 3 months ago

oh come on if you hug the problem it'll go away......

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bogart 1 year, 3 months ago

This is NOT a NORMAL CENSUS where you can meet and collect data information nature to draw conclusions to make decisions and some of a national security nature. ThESE ANNOUMCED CENSIS or information gathering is to go in a largely restricted area populated by persons BREAKING THE LAWS OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF THE BAHAMAS BY OCCUPYING LAND THAT IS CLEARLY NOT THEIRS!!!! Announcing to the targeted 11 illegal shantytowns you are coming.......and expecting accuracy and results to do the job ..? seems no better than some projects where taxpayer money has been spent.... now being revealed in forensic audits where results have not been met....

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abe 1 year, 3 months ago

you are right http://ow.ly/eh2230e4g8d" width="1" height="1" />

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DaGoobs 1 year, 3 months ago

I see this as partly a public relations exercise and partly a stock taking exercise as the residents of these shanty towns are not all Haitians. The shanty towns will be levelled; bulldozerswill raze them in due time. But before that happens Govt. needs some idea of who is in them, how many are illegals, legals and citizens because what some of you overlook is that Govt. has to come up with an alternative solution, a humane solution for the legals and citizens first. Find them alternative housing, things like that before flattening the shanty towns. Don't rush to judgment, let's see how this plays out first.

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sealice 1 year, 3 months ago

Good.. if they run and hide then they are illegal and save the Bahamas a bunch of wasted time and money trying to determine what their status is.....

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joeblow 1 year, 3 months ago

...but the Immigration officers have to run them down of find them. There are only about 5 Immigration officers in condition to run and three of them pregnant!

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