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‘What’S The Plan For Abaco Shanty Town Residents?’

AN AERIAL view of some of the properties that have sprung up. Photo: Stephanie Hield

AN AERIAL view of some of the properties that have sprung up. Photo: Stephanie Hield

By LEANDRA ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

lrolle@tribunemedia.net

A LOCAL human rights activist says he hopes the government will have a proper contingency plan in place that includes housing alternatives for occupants of a new shanty town in Abaco when it moves to demolish the newly built illegal structures.

Louby Georges told The Tribune yesterday that hundreds and possibly thousands of people could be displaced if the government does not find housing alternatives for residents in the Farm Road community that is targeted for government demolition.

His comments come after Works Minister Desmond Bannister along with other government officials toured some parts of the Farm Road shanty town over the weekend. Noting the situation will not be an “overnight fix”, Mr Bannister pledged to Abaconians that the government will take the necessary action to deal with unregulated developments on the island.

Aerial surveillance, released by Abaconions earlier this month, showed new construction taking place, with buildings being built more strategically and sturdier than what was seen in the irregular communities pre-Hurricane Dorian.

Mr Georges said while he understands the government’s need to take action, there must also be a structured plan in place to avoid people being left homeless.

“The rules are the rules, the law is the law and at the end of day, if we don’t have any rules or if we don’t have any laws then what type of society will we have,” he told this newspaper.

“So, in that case I totally understand the government’s position and I can’t knock the government’s position in that regards but on the flip side of things, when you take a look at the reality of Abaco… housing, as an essential element of the community, is not readily available in Abaco as we speak.”

He added: “So, while we need to reconstruct, repair and build back the island itself, I’m not talking about any particular part or community, the island needs to be rebuilt. We need the resources, we need human labour to be there to rebuild the island.

“Where are these people going to live? So, in a sense it’s like being caught between a rock and a hard place and if you go and the government decides to demolish all of these homes, then we’re back at square one so same way Hurricane Dorian displaced people, they’re now going to be displaced again so where do they go?”

Mr Georges said many of the residents living in those communities are in the country legally and urged Bahamians to be responsible in their commentary.

He said: “If you can go back to the 2018 task force report that the government did, the government’s own report, we saw that the overwhelming majority of the shanty town dwellers were actually legal residents of the Bahamas. So, it hurts me when I hear (media) reporting these ‘illegal migrant communities’ because.. that’s so dangerous and so unfortunate.”

Before Hurricane Dorian decimated them last year, shanty towns across Abaco had more than 1,000 homes and an estimated population size of 3,500, according to government reports.

However, two weeks after the storm hit the island, the government issued an immediate ban on the construction of any new buildings in the four major shanty towns on Abaco.

Despite the government ban, unregulated homes continued to spring up on the island.

Mr Georges said the government is to blame for allowing the situation to get out of hand.

He said: “You have the Abaco authorities or the government officials who allowed this to happen.

“Reports were coming out from there last year sometime that something was going here but you guys (officials) sat by and did nothing so if the government knew this was being built and allowed this to happen for so long then I would think the responsible thing to do is ensure that you have a proper plan in place,” the activist said.

Comments

FrustratedBusinessman 7 months, 1 week ago

Mr Georges said the government is to blame for allowing the situation to get out of hand.

BS. We would have never heard the end of the weeping/wailing about "human rights" if the government rounded up every resident w/o papers and sent them back home.

we saw that the overwhelming majority of the shanty town dwellers were actually legal residents of the Bahamas.

Makes no difference. The issue isn't one of residency, it is one of constructing unauthorized dwellings on land that these people don't even own. Asfaik, only one of those houses back there is legally owned, the rest all need to be torn down. If these "legal residents" are in the country on work permits, I would advise them to read the stipulations attached to those permits. If they are have PR or are citizens, they have no right to build on land that they don't even legally own (much less not pay BPL, water & sewage, etc.). I would like to see these people try this in Canada or the US; this wouldn't fly even with how pathetic the current administrations are on the topic of immigration in those countries.

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moncurcool 7 months, 1 week ago

This foolishness needs to stop. I am a citizen by birth for generation. My people have generation land in Cat Island. But even if I wish to build on it I still have to have a building permit.

These people want to illegally build without permit on land not their own. Then want to have the audacity to say the government should have a plan to move them. Are you kidding me?

Do you know that if you build on a persons land that they can just take what you build there and move you out and the law with them?

I am darn tired of being treated like a second class citizen in my country following the law and johnny come latelys could just break it without consequences.

Maybe time to go squat in Albany or Lyford CAy.

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Emilio26 4 months, 4 weeks ago

Moncurcool I think those Lyford Cay and Albany residents will raise hell if you decides to go and squat near them.

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truetruebahamian 7 months, 1 week ago

Send them back or send them on. They overbreed and destroy their country, and take advantage of our successive governments' lack of commitment. A spay and neuter policy can and should be implemented for them to remain.

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jamaicaproud 7 months, 1 week ago

You should be arrested and charged for criminal incitement. Don't you realize the Bahamas is the new Haiti? You Tourism deck of cards has exposed the fickleness of the economy ,and will likely not recover for a generation, Bahamians getting free food because they don't farm, Yet you have strength for Haitians. Don't waste your time telling me about Jamaica and this and that. Its a much better place than the Bahamas, at least to me.

You all need to show a little humility.

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DWW 7 months, 1 week ago

I'd bet that if the residents of the Farm stopped teifin, they might attract less negative attention. anything and everythign that goes missing anywhere in Abaco ends up at the Farm.

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mandela 7 months, 1 week ago

The law is the LAW, no permission given then these structures need to go, and I hope Bahamians will see that since the passing of Dorian the Haitian community has built 1000 structures, the Government and the Bahamian community together on the other maybe 150 structures, where is the money coming from, where are the materials coming from, and who is supplying these illegal building, the Bahamas the country of slackness. Yes it surely is better in the Bahamas, just not for Bahamians

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