Wednesday, Oct 23, 2019
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‘I don’t have nothing in Haiti’

Petit Williams, 61, returned to his Lazaretto Road home last week after spending 16 months in Haiti getting medical treatment, only to find himself in limbo over where he will live.

Williams said he had heard about the government’s plan to destroy the place he had called home for 12 years and was afraid it would be gone when he returned.

The government gave shantytown residents on New Providence until August 10 to evacuate.

Once the deadline passed, it would have moved to demolish the homes in those communities.

However, days before those homes were to be destroyed, Supreme Court Justice Cheryl Grant-Thompson issued an injunction preventing the demolition of the shantytowns on New Providence and granted leave for a judicial review of the government’s actions regarding the shantytowns.

Williams has been living in The Bahamas since 1979 and raised 19 children here, he told The Nassau Guardian.

“Anything I do, I spend that on them,” said Williams, referring to his children.

“I spend that in The Bahamas. I ain’t do nothing in Haiti. I don’t have nothing in Haiti.

“But God gave me life and I build this shack here to live.

“When I heard that in Haiti, I felt so sorry because I don’t have no other place to go.

“For right now, I don’t have any money to rent an apartment, or build, or buy a government house.”

Williams said while he is afraid that he will have to move, there’s nothing he can do now but wait.

“You can’t put the fault with the government. If [it] wants to do something you can’t stop them,” he said.

“Only God could stop them; talk to their heart.”

He added that if he has to, he will move.

“You supposed to do that, you can’t do [anything],” Williams said.

“I’m waiting to see what happens.”

While several shantytown residents in the Carmichael Road area have already moved out of those communities, several others who remained said yesterday they will await the outcome of the court hearing concerning their eviction from those homes.

According to the New Providence Shantytown Assessment Report completed earlier this year, 1,410 people reside in those communities throughout New Providence.

It is unclear how many people remain in those communities.

Polo Valbrum, 18, said unlike many of his neighbors, he and his siblings plan to stay in the Lazaretto Road shantytown until they are told they can no longer be there.

“My parents [are] moving out,” Valbrum said.

“We’re staying here but my parents moving.

“A lot of people moved out. It ain’t much stayed. Just a couple of us stayed.

“How it was, [the government] was saying [it was] coming around breaking down the houses so everyone had plans to move.

“But when they said they weren’t breaking them down anymore, we just stayed.”

Valbrum said his parents are in the process of moving and if the court decides in the government’s favor, he and his siblings will have no choice but to move with them.

A few houses away, Tika Smith, a recent high school graduate, said her family is also hoping for the best.

Smith said despite the court injunction, many people in her community are afraid that their homes will still be taken away.

“What I have heard from multiple people, yes, they are afraid,” she said.

“People who moved, they were already complaining about, ‘I can’t pay rent’ and they were like, ‘If [the government] ain’t breaking down the places, I’ll come back.’

“So, I think there is a fear about that.”

Smith noted that no one who has moved out of the community has moved back in yet.

“There was a lot of people who moved out and there are a lot of people who are still trying to find houses even though the deadline is over; they still trying find places to go,” she said.

“If they come today or tomorrow and say, ‘Y’all still have to move,’ basically we have to move.

“There’s nothing we can do about it. If they say you got to move, we got to move.”

Fenol Sentill, a resident of the Montgomery Avenue shantytown off Cowpen Road, said he is happy for the injunction because it gives people more time to get their affairs in order.

He noted that many people moved out of that community before the injunction was given.

“Maybe they [will] come back again because you know it’s very difficult to get money to pay rent,” Sentill said.

The 52-year-old, who has lived in that community for 22 years, said he had already started packing his belongings and was looking for somewhere else to live.

He has since stopped that process and is waiting until the case concludes before he does anything else.

“After court if they say they [will] break everything down, people who live here they have to move because you cannot fight about that because the government is the government, you have to respect everything they say,” said Sentill.

“After court, if they say they will break everything down, I will have to move.”

Sloan Smith

Staff Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Sloan covers national news for The Nassau Guardian. Sloan officially joined the news team in September 2016 but interned at The Nassau Guardian while studying journalism at the University of The Bahamas.
Education: Vrije Universiteit Brussel (University of Brussels), MA in Mass Communications

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