The group behind cleaning up debris in The Mudd shantytown said yesterday that they expect to be finished by December 20, but Minister of Public Works Desmond Bannister said it may take longer.
“I’m shocked at the progress they’ve made,” Bannister said during a tour of the shantytown yesterday.
“I indicated to the contractors that I believe it’s going to take them a lot longer than they forecast.
“They say they’re going to be finished by December 20. I’d be surprised if they are finished by December 20 having regard to the meticulous manner in which they are attacking the work. They are doing an outstanding job, but I would doubt that they are going to finish on time and we have to ensure that everything is cleared away.
“[I] wouldn’t be surprised if it runs a few months over.”
Bahamas Striping Group of Companies (BSGC) Managing Director Allen Albury said cleanup of the shantytown is 60 percent complete.
The swampy land combined with the presence of many cesspits have complicated the work for BSGC’s subsidiary, Caribbean Pavement Solutions, which was awarded the contract for the cleanup of the area in late September.
“There are many areas that are still swampy,” Albury said during the tour of The Mudd.
“In some areas where we have containers lodged, we’re having to rip fill so that we could compact those areas in order for the heavy equipment to go in and draw at those types of debris. We’re making significant progress. I think we’re probably perhaps about 60 percent clear of the debris.”
The company has set a goal of December 20 to be finished with cleaning the debris on the site. However, Minister of Public Works Desmond Bannister expressed doubt over their ability to meet that deadline.
The Mudd was one of the hardest hit areas on Abaco when Hurricane Dorian pummeled the island in early September.
Bannister said the informal community had to have been an “extremely frightening” place to be in the storm due to its buildings having not been built up to regulation.
“We cannot permit that to ever happen again in The Bahamas,” he said.
“I know some people are not happy with what the government is seeking to do with shantytowns, but just imagine the horror that some people had to live in when that storm hit. And just imagine what they had to do to get out of here.”
Caribbean Pavement Solutions Project Manager Anthone Deveaux said tons of debris has already been cleared, but there is still much more.
“We’re still making an estimation on the debris that is left,” he said.
“After the initial cleanup, we’re finding that this is a site that has a lot of debris throughout the property. Some is taken to the garbage site and we still have a few tons left. But we did clear several tons of debris.”
Deveaux said the team found five bodies since cleanup efforts began.
“There were two bodies two weeks ago and then three prior to that discovery,” he said.
He added, “It’s never a good feeling encountering a body. You never could get use to it, seeing a dead body.”