A Bahamian company says it has substantially completed post-Dorian clean-up of the 40.9 acre location that was previously home to The Mudd shanty town community.
Caribbean Pavement Solutions’ (CPS) said it had finished sorting through, and removing, debris in an area that once housed 600 residences, 45 commercial shops, 100 septic tanks and six outside toilets, according to a Department of Environmental Health Services (DEHS) 2013 report.
Desmond Bannister, minister of works, said of the company’s performance: “From the time they were mobilised to come here, to be able to get here, to be able to do what they have done, it’s just outstanding and I want to commend them for it.
Caribbean Pavement Solutions, a subsidiary of the Bahamas Striping Group of Companies (BSGC), took Mr Bannister and Ministry of Works officials on a tour of the site on Friday. He said post-Dorian recovery will take time.
“While we live in a microwave society where we want everything overnight, there’s still a way to do things. There’s still a way to do it with decency and to provide dignity to people who have lost their lives,” he said.
Caribbean Pavement Solutions took four months to clear, sort and discard tons of waste. Workers also discovered 12 bodies at the site and turned them over to the authorities for identification. Aside from the mud, the site featured sinkholes and poorly-constructed cesspits that were not built to code, which could have wrecked costly heavy-duty machinery if stumbled upon.
At its peak the clearance project employed around 100 men (mostly Abaconians), said operations manager, Kendrick Darville. Caribbean Pavement Solutions transformed Friendship Tabernacle in Central Pines into a man camp to house and feed its workers. It outfitted the church with a new generator, additional air conditioning units, airbeds, washers, dryers, outdoor showers and installed recreational amenities. From food and toiletries to trucks and tractors, everything was flown or shipped into the island.
“This is the type of thing where we have to toot the horns of our young people, our young ingenuous Bahamians who got this amazing type of work done,” said Mr Bannister who was accompanied on the tour by his ministry’s director of works, Melanie Roach, and permanent secretary, Cora Colebrooke.
Caribbean Pavement Solutions said it was still wrapping up closing tasks, including cleaning up the outskirts of the Mudd where several badly damaged, uninhabitable homes – not in the original scope of work – are still left standing. It also has to truck in fill to level uneven land.
“Naturally, the land’s topography needs to be raised. If you look at the high points versus the low points, there is at least about two-and-a half-feet to three feet variance and that has to be addressed,” said Caribbean Pavement Solutions managing director, Dr Allen Albury.
“What will happen is that during the rainy season this will create a basin and that basin will become full. The high water table can create a challenge in terms of mosquitos and other airborne challenges.”
Those works will be completed in short order, said Caribbean Pavement Solutions president, Atario Mitchell, an Abaco native.
“The main thing for me is to get Abaco back to where it was. This is my home and I think that Abaco definitely has the potential to be more than what it was,” said Mr Mitchell.
“It’s just up to the powers that be to really sit down and try to design Abaco to its full potential, and then persons like myself and other individuals [can] come back and invest in Abaco and let’s make Abaco better.”
An unobstructed view of a 40.9-acre-stretch of land once occupied by one of The Bahamas’ largest shanty town communities, The Mudd, located in the heart of Marsh Harbour, Abaco.
Desmond Bannister, minister of works, led a small team including director of works, Melanie Roach, and Ministry of Works permanent secretary, Cora Colebrooke, to Marsh Harbour where Atario Mitchell, president of Caribbean Pavement Solutions gave a guided tour of his company’s clean-up efforts which are substantially completed.
Photos courtesy of Caribbean Pavement Solutions