Home in shanty town had legal power hookup
A house that was amid the shanty town impacted by fire on Boxing Day was found to have a legal electrical hookup, according to the Bahamas Electricity Corporation’s(BEC)public relations officer Arnette Wilson-Ingraham. The structure is not suspected to be the source of the fire.
Calls for an investigation into how utility poles came to be within the area of the shanty town arose after fire destroyed more than 100 wooden houses in that makeshift village off of Carmichael Road. Firefighters told reporters that the fire was a difficult one to suppress because it spread from the rear of the tightly packed houses.
Wilson-Ingraham said while BEC’s investigations could not deduce whether or not the reported single family home was supplying much of the rest of the village with power, it did reveal that the owners of the property requested to have the utility poles placed near the house in order to access the electrical grid.
She added that a government agency in 2000,when the structure was reported to have received power, would have found the residential structure sound and therefore given BEC the go ahead to supply it.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Public Works Colin Higgs suggested toThe Nassau Guardianfollowing the fire that it is his ministry’s responsibility to determine if a dwelling is a legitimate one before a pole is put down to provide electricity.
Higgs contended that most if not all of the buildings in the shanty town surrounding BEC’s utilities would have not met even minimum building codes, and therefore would not have been allowed to receive electricity through BEC.
However, BEC found that this structure, which was reported to have been damaged in the fire, did prove to be a legitimate dwelling and was therefore permitted to receive power.
“A landlord wrote in to give permission for the person living in the building to give electricity to the home,”saidWilson-Ingraham.
“(The landlord)would have gotten permission(from the Ministry of Public Works)and would have provided us with information from a licensed contractor, and we would have provided a legitimate power source to a home in that area this structure was safe.”
She added that the household’s account seemed to have been kept current.
Higgs insisted that The Bahamas has to do a better job of enforcing the law with regard to illegal dwellings like the ones found in Haitian villages throughout The Bahamas.
“If they shouldn’t be there, we should be enforcing the law to shut them down,”said Higgs.”It is a serious problem throughout most of the islands.”
He added that it is a well known problem that individuals in these shanty towns tap electricity from BEC’s utilities and then disburse it throughout much of the settlement using long extension cords.
Wilson-Ingraham said their investigations of the area did not suggest that power was being disbursed from the home to the surrounding shanty town. However, she contended that the corporation has stepped up its investigations of such claims in shanty towns and other areas.