A BULLDOZER moves in to demolish domes in Abaco. Photos: Silbert Mills
By EARYEL BOWLEG
Tribune Staff Reporter
AFTER the recent demolition of the domes on Abaco, State Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister Myles Laroda said only a “small number” of people were still living in them, but he has been assured their needs will be addressed.
He spoke to the dome issue and repeated some of the explanations the Office of the Prime Minister gave in reference to why the shelters were demolished, highlighting mould as a problem.
“My information is that one, all of those individuals that were in the domes, that the domes were numbered, people were assigned to them. My information is that all of those issues have been addressed. I know there have been some optics the prime minister has spoken to. He would’ve preferred the dismantling or disassembly of the domes,” Mr Laroda said on the sidelines of an event on Friday.
“A few of the domes have been taken down. My inspection of those domes were that they were looking at the mould and the conditions, looking at the unsanitary conditions, in particular, sewage that was seeping out of the grounds. They were not fastened properly, and that they were not livable and this government is going to find a way to relocate those individuals. I’ve been advised that there was a very small number that was still there, but they all, in speaking to my colleagues at Social Services, who said all of those needs have been addressed.”
Last week, The Tribune reported that some Abaco residents expressed distress over the sudden and “short notice” of the demolition of the domes that had been home to them and their families for more than two years.
One resident, KK Marshall, said he watched his belongings get bulldozed.
When asked about people not being able to get their belongings, the minister of state called the report “unfortunate”, but reminded the press on Friday that not “everything said is the truth.”
“I would say that it would be - it’s unfortunate,” he said. “When I raised the issue, there was maybe one or two individuals. I would remind the press that not everything said is the truth. I would have some information and yet, because of the sensitivity of matters, I will not comment because we are talking about individuals who are hurting, and I don’t question people’s want for survival or minimise their hurt, but we have information that is contrary to some of the reports that are out there.”
Mr Laroda has responsibility for disaster preparedness and reconstruction.
He said the Prime Minister has made his department responsible for building homes for some of the most vulnerable Dorian victims.
Mr Laroda added that officials recently received a cash donation of $300,000 from a foreign government to assist with the aftermath of Dorian and that proceeds, along with the millions that have been appropriated in this budgetary year, will go towards those homes and assistance to those individuals.
Asked how many homes will be built, he answered: “It depends, we are looking at the NEMA model and no matter how many homes we build, no matter what the number is, it will be 100 percent more than what was built before.”
Asked what areas are in mind, he noted: “Presently, we’re looking in the Marshall Bay area, the Dorian zone, if the public is not aware, it’s really the DRA focuses on the Dorian zone, which would be Marsh Harbour, South Abaco, and also in the north, in the eastern end of Grand Bahama.”
He also gave an update on draft legislation to combine disaster response agencies.
“The government is drafting legislation. We are actually coming towards the finish line where the Prime Minister’s view is to merge NEMA, the DRA and the former Ministry of Disaster Preparedness into one nimble agile agency. So there is not an overlap in functions and responsibilities. We are well on our way with the draft legislation.”