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50 acres of shanty land cleared

Roughly 50 acres of shantytown land have been cleared on Abaco in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, Minister of Works Desmond Bannister said in the House of Assembly yesterday evening.

“Between The Mudd and the Pea, I think we have some over 50 acres of land that has been cleared that’s going to be a wonderful heritage for the people of The Bahamas to put something there special,” said Bannister during debate on the midyear budget.

“We will seek to clean up and remove as many other shantytowns as the courts permit.”

As he commended the work done by companies contracted for the cleanup efforts, Bannister highlighted health and environmental concerns discovered in the informal communities.

“In Abaco, three former shantytowns, The Mudd, Pea and Sandbanks, have been cleared by Bahamian contractors,” he said, holding up before and after photos of The Mudd, which was the largest of the three shantytowns.

“This was arduous work, but now that those areas have been cleared and fenced, this government will not permit the redevelopment of shantytowns in these locations.

“And indeed the health and other challenges associated with those shantytowns mandate that we have no tolerance whatsoever for their existence.

“These challenges, Mr. Speaker, include huge open holes filled with faeces; pirated water and electricity services, which negatively impacted the Bahamian people and create fire hazards, and even more large open holes filled with garbage.

“Mr. Speaker, I want to commend Caribbean Paving Solutions. They cleaned The Mudd.”

Last week, Bannister said Bahamians’ complacency created the shantytown problem that exists in The Bahamas.

He said only an event like Hurricane Dorian could have allowed the government to do what is necessary to clean up the Abaco shantytowns.

Dorian tore through Abaco and Grand Bahama nearly six months ago, leaving at least 70 dead. The Mudd and Pigeon Peas shantytowns suffered severe wind and flood damage.

Early in its term, the Minnis administration announced plans to demolish shantytowns in The Bahamas.

In August 2018, Supreme Court Justice Cheryl Grant-Thompson handed down an injunction blocking the demolition of shantytown structures.

The government is seeking to have the injunction lifted.

After Dorian, the government issued an immediate six-month ban on the construction of new buildings in Abaco shantytowns.

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Rachel Knowles

Rachel joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2019. Rachel covers national issues. Education: University of Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish

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