Haitian chargé agrees with shantytown building ban

Haitian Chargé d’Affaires Dorval Darlier yesterday agreed with the Bahamian government’s recent decision to issue a ban on the construction of buildings in shantytowns on Abaco in the wake of Hurricane Dorian.

“The Bahamas is a tourism country,” Darlier told The Nassau Guardian.

“We rely on tourism. Do you think the government or anyone can expect to rebuild the shantytown any type of way? I’m asking everyone…to invest in housing and in rent for the Haitian people, the workers, for them to establish themselves.”

Darlier also said Haitian communities on Abaco should build safer structures that are up to the Bahamian building code.

However, when asked if Haitians should be allowed to rebuild in the shantytowns, he said, “No, no, no, no; don’t even think about the shantytown. I don’t even want to say the word ‘shantytown’.

“If you want to go down there (to Abaco), you have to live decently.

“…For myself, as a government representative, it’s a shame for me to see my people live like that.”

The chargé d’affaires called on upper-class residents on Abaco to assist the Haitian community on the island with rebuilding.

On September 16, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis told The Nassau Guardian that the government had decided that shantytowns were not in compliance with zoning codes.

“Thus, [they will] place individuals at health, environmental and other risks, especially at risk with hurricanes,” Minnis said.

“All individuals must comply with our code. Those facilities will not be tolerated as we are a country of law.”

More than 300 Haitians are reportedly still missing following Dorian’s decimation of Abaco.

The storm has left at least 53 dead.

On September 15, the government issued an immediate ban on the construction of any new buildings in the four major shantytowns on Abaco.

The order, which is valid for at least six months, mandates that “no person shall erect any new building or development for the purposes of residing or carrying out any commercial activity” in the identified areas.

The ministry said the order may be extended for further periods of up to six months “as required”.

The ban came as the government continues to face legal pushback following its announcement last year that shantytowns would be demolished.

The government gave residents of most shantytowns on New Providence until August 10, 2018, to leave before demolition.

Residents in shantytowns on Abaco were to be given until the end of July 2019 to leave.

However, in August 2018, Supreme Court Justice Cheryl Grant-Thompson granted an injunction blocking the demolition of shantytown structures.

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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