Govt signs contracts for shantytown cleanup

The government yesterday announced contracts for the cleanup of shantytowns on Abaco, but Minister of Public Works Desmond Bannister said it is unclear yet how much the effort will cost.

Caribbean Pavement Solutions, which is part of the Bahamas Striping Group of Companies, was awarded the contract for the cleanup of The Mudd in Marsh Harbour. Bill Summons Construction and Heavy Equipment will be responsible for the Pigeon Peas.

The shantytowns in Treasure Cay will be cleaned up by Big Cat Equipment, and the Sand Banks contract was awarded to J and J Pavers.

Bannister said the companies will be paid according to the equipment they use and the amount of labor they provide.

“Depending on how many workers you have, depending on what type of equipment you have, depending on how you use that equipment, depending on how many hours that equipment is used, those are the calculations that are done based on each company. Everyone will be different, and the number of hours that are put in, all of that is calculated in it.”

Ministry of Works Director Melanie Roach said inspectors will be on the ground monitoring the companies to ensure that the companies are paid based on what they deliver. Bannister said the police and the Department of Environmental Health will oversee the operations.

“This is unprecedented,” said Bannister. “I want to emphasize that what we are doing has never happened in The Bahamas before.

“What we might find, we don’t know. It has to be approached delicately. It has to be approached sensitively. We have highly experienced persons who are going to do that under the supervision of the police and environmental health. So, throwing out figures just for the sake of throwing out figures doesn’t make sense.”

Roach said the companies will have a maximum of three months to complete the clean up, but that could change depending on the situation on the ground when they get there.

Bannister emphasized that the shantytowns will not be allowed to be rebuilt.

“When these shantytowns are cleared, there is nobody moving back in there,” he said.

He added, “Nobody is going to move there for residential purposes. Nobody is going to move there for business purposes. Signs are going to be put up by this ministry, and nobody is going to move in, nobody.”

Bannister encouraged residents of Abaco not to rush to rebuild.

“Remember that most of these Family Island communities were not built for resilience,” he said.

“They were built in the place that’s closest to the water for access to the water, just like you have graveyards on the beaches because that was the easiest place to dig, and so all of these issues have to now come into town planning. All of them have to be combined. We cannot rush the process. We are still in the process of gathering information, but we have to gather information in such a way that we can keep the Bahamian people as safe as possible when they rebuild.

“…Do not try to rush rebuilding unless you are fully inspected and you meet the current code, because there are people now who are trying to rush to rebuild who are not up to code, and if they are hit again, they’re going to have the same results.”

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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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