Demolition in Abaco at the weekend.
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Senior Reporter
A MAN displaced by demolition activities in Abaco over the weekend says dealing with the aftermath has been a nightmare as he struggles to find shelter for himself, his girlfriend and her two-year-old daughter who no longer have a place of their own to live.
The man — who did not want his name disclosed in this article — said he pleaded with workers on Saturday to give him until August to find a new home, but they still destroyed his house.
Residents say about ten other structures were destroyed. It comes after Works Minister Desmond Bannister said earlier this month that the government would move to the third phase of its plan to demolish structures in the Farm shanty town, which includes destroying structures occupied by people.
The now displaced resident said yesterday: “They make you take the stuff out of the house and they crushed it with an excavator. I talked to the gentlemen and said give me until August or July because I have somebody fixing an apartment that I could rent because ain’ no house like that in Abaco. He told me only the minister could say don’t knock it down. I say I can’t reach him. He say the minister out the country.”
Human Rights Bahamas released a statement yesterday condemning the government for “continuing to manufacture and perpetuate a humanitarian crisis in Abaco...”
The group said around 40 people, including 16 children, were left homeless after the demolition activities and that “no provision whatsoever” was made for their shelter or safety.
The man who spoke to The Tribune said he is a Bahamian. He said he moved to The Farm two years ago after Hurricane Dorian destroyed his home in Marsh Harbour.
“I was just trying to get on my feet, do a little saving, try invest in a property,” he said.
When workers insisted on destroying his property on Saturday, he said he placed his belongings in the homes of neighbours.
“What’s so funny,” he added, “is you don’t know if this week it gon’ be the other people houses that you put your stuff in getting knocked down. No human rights or nothing. It’s like a dog living better than you.”
He said the destruction of his house has forced him to be separated from his girlfriend and her daughter. He said they stayed with a friend and he stayed with another friend.
He said his efforts to find a new place to live are complicated by the fact that he is low on cash, having done only a “little construction” work since the storm.
“It’s just hurting,” he said. “It’s like a nightmare. It was hard to sleep last night. It’s sad and it just shocks you. You don’t know somebody would be that hard heart, no mercy. I say where y’all gon’ put people with these little kids who going to school? Right now it’s only the Red Cross and other organisations really helping people around here. Government ain’ doing nothing. They don’t care about nobody.
“I know one thing, they ain’ gon get no vote from me or my friends who around me anymore. They want come walking around election time, the devil is a liar. All I wanted was extra time. I wasn’t asking for money, just a little help.”
Last week, the United Nations’ human rights experts urged the government not to demolish homes in the Farm because it would increase homelessness and suffering. The UN noted that many people in the Farm were affected by Hurricane Dorian.
Rights Bahamas said yesterday: “In perpetuating this double standard, the government has spit in the face of the international community, in particular the human rights experts who advise the United Nations and now urged the government of the Bahamas to cease and desist committing serious violations of the international treaties to which this country is signatory.”