People are still living in makeshift homes in the Farm Road shantytown on Abaco, Minister of State for Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction Iram Lewis said yesterday.
He said their presence is making the cleanup of the site difficult.
“There are some makeshift dwellings there, some tents there that we must deal with, and we will have to do it as soon as possible to ensure that we can clean up those areas and we can reconstruct properly,” he told reporters outside Cabinet.
He added, “Everything is already demolished.
“We just have to get in there to clean up, but there are residents in the area that need to be managed so that we can get to our work as we need to.”
Lewis added, “We cannot allow residents to be in the area while we are doing our work.
“So, we have to ensure that we are allowed to do our work in a safe manner and there aren’t any obstructions from persons who might be moving to their areas, whether they are NGOs or persons seeking shelter. So, again it is posing a challenge, but we will do it the right way, the humane way, to ensure that we have these areas cleaned up.”
Hurricane Dorian swept over Abaco and Grand Bahama in September, leaving ruin in its wake.
Haitian shantytowns on Abaco were particularly hard-hit.
Many who survived are now homeless. The government issued contracts for the cleanup of the areas in late September.
Lewis said yesterday that while the Sand Banks shantytown is nearly completely cleaned up and the Pigeon Peas shantytown is complete, there have been some challenges in The Mudd, the largest of them all.
“The Mudd is about 45 to 50 percent completed,” he said.
He said the problem the cleanup crew face in The Mudd is that there were a lot of open septic tanks and pits in the area.
“So, as you can imagine, the contractors, even after clearing a particular area of all the layers, to get in there with all the machines is risky because you don’t know if you’re going to go into a pit,” he said.
“So, they now have to bring in fill to ensure that they stabilize the soil as they move through.”
Last year, the government announced that it would demolish shantytowns throughout The Bahamas.
However, in August 2018, Supreme Court Justice Cheryl Grant-Thompson handed down an injunction blocking the demolition of shantytown structures.
After Dorian, the government issued an immediate six-month ban on the construction of new buildings in those shantytowns.
On October 2, Minnis announced that the government would acquire shantytown property on Abaco through compulsory acquisition.