Acting President of the Bahamas Christian Council (BCC) Anglican Archdeacon James Palacious said yesterday the elimination of shantytowns in The Bahamas will be a “painful and heart-wrenching” process, but suggested that the communities cannot continue and urged Bahamians to lend aid to residents who struggle to find new homes.
“It is my opinion that the shantytowns have been permitted to exist for decades and decisive action is necessary to rectify this malady,” Palacious said during a press conference.
“The government has consulted extensively with the Bahamas Christian Council, the Haitian pastors, the wider Haitian community and other stakeholders.
“I commend the government for this widespread consultation, whereby the various occupants have been duly notified about the pending action to demolish the shantytowns.
“The building code and other laws of the land must be upheld by one and all.
“It is indeed a painful experience for those communities, seeing their place of residence being bulldozed. After all, however we look at it these structures are homes to those who occupy them, in many cases for all of their lives.
“They have invested heavily in the buildings and in the communities themselves.
“It’s heart-wrenching, to say the least, for many who are not a part of those communities, so I can’t imagine what it’s like for occupants.
“The dislocation is tremendous and traumatic as the displaced try to find affordable housing. This is not easy.
“Who wants to rent a house or apartment to people fresh out of a shantytown? Bahamians with reasonable paying jobs could hardly find first and last month’s rent.
“Do we really expect ex-shantytown residents to have it?
“All Bahamians are urged, as they are able, to help these residents to readjust to the financial and social realities of a new life and location. They are our brothers and sisters and we need to come to their aid in whatever way we can.”
Palacious said he was presenting his personal views.
He said, if called upon, the church will render assistance as it can.
He noted that the BCC will be working with Haitian pastors to help residents who may be unable to find housing.
The Shantytown Action Task Force (SATF) has served residents of 11 shantytowns in New Providence with final notices.
Residents have until August 10 to move.
Chair of the SATF, Minister of Labour Dion Foulkes, has said that the government is considering taking legal action against the leaseholders of the 11 shantytowns in New Providence.
According to the government’s New Providence Shantytown Assessment Report, 2018, 1,410 people resided in those communities at the time a survey was taken.
Many residents have expressed dismay over the process with some lamenting that they have nowhere to go.
“Honest to God, me and my wife we don’t have no place to go yet,” Profile Wesley, 53, told The Guardian last month.
Education: College of The Bahamas, English