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Nema Seeks Manpower To Enforce Shanty Town Ban

Homes in ruins one week after Hurricane Dorian hit The Mudd community in Abaco. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

Homes in ruins one week after Hurricane Dorian hit The Mudd community in Abaco. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

By KHRISNA RUSSELL

Deputy Chief Reporter

krussell@tribunemedia.net

ADDITIONAL manpower will be requested to monitor Abaco shanty towns to ensure there are no further attempts to build or erect structures for residential or commercial use.

The statement came from Captain Stephen Russell yesterday, a day after government issued a six-month ban on construction in The Mudd, Pigeon Pea, Sand Bank and Farm Road communities of Abaco.

Capt Russell, director of the National Emergency Management Agency, made the statement moments after he said he had received a call from an island administrator informing him that people had set up tents in the Sand Bank area.

"I advised that that is not to happen at this point, not at all," he told reporters yesterday during NEMA's daily press briefing. "So that goes for The Mudd, Pigeon Pea, Sand Banks.

"There is no reconstruction in those areas at all."

The government issued order says "no person shall erect any new building or development for the purposes of residing or carrying out any commercial activity" in those communities.

Asked if NEMA saw a need to ask for additional monitoring in those areas, Capt Russell said: "Yes, most certainly. The Ministry of Works and Environment, their task is once debris is clear they would cordon off the area until we have a plan as to how we rebuild those areas."

Capt Russell further explained that each of the areas will need proper infrastructure before approval is given for construction to begin, adding the order also pertained to tent use in those areas.

"When we decide upon putting up temporary shelters, we would designate the areas where we want our temporary shelters to go for persons who are returning to the area and as persons who move to the area or are on restoration crews.

"We have set up a designated area where those accommodations will be set up because we need to tie in a sewer system. Likewise an electrical supply and water, but we have to control that before anything goes on in those areas.

"So they can't just go about anywhere as they wish," he said.

As it stands, officials are in the process of finalising plans for the affected shanty towns with the aim to properly zone those areas.

But first, mounds of debris have to be cleared away.

"We have to clear everything away first then we want to do a proper zoning of the areas," Capt Russell said.

"The intended plan is there is no reconstruction in those areas. The intended plan (is) you'll find alternate locations to erect temporary housing for those persons who need to work or live in Abaco moving forward."

Yesterday, Royal Bahamas Defence Force Commodore Tellis Bethel said while the organisation would be guided by NEMA and in collaboration with police, the agency had not received any directives regarding Abaco shanty towns.

The shanty town prohibition order is valid for six months but may be extended for a further period up to six months as required.

Before the hurricane decimated them, these shanty towns had more than 1,000 homes and an estimated population size of 3,500, according to government reports.

As a result, many have had to seek housing in various shelters in New Providence. According to the latest numbers released by NEMA, there are 10 shelters in the capital, housing 1,906 people.

In Grand Bahama two shelters are open with 66 people in them.

Three people are in one shelter in Abaco and ten people are in one shelter in Eleuthera.

Comments

BahamaPundit 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Fence the relevant areas off with barbwire. This should be done ASAP.

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truetruebahamian 1 month, 3 weeks ago

There are people who actually own the properties where there shanty towns were built. Will they be compensated or is this a case of eminent domain?

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ConchFretter 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Should this not fall under the Ministry of Environment and Housing and/or the Ministry of Works? The National Emergency Management Agency has enough on its plate.

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joeblow 1 month, 3 weeks ago

This is where drones would be useful! Aerial surveillance would allow authorities to identify where construction might be taking place, if so then go in demolish the structure and arrest and fine the lawbreaker. If illegal deport them! Why is this so hard?

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