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People still living in Farm Road shantytown, Lewis says

People are still living in the Farm Road shantytown on Abaco, Minister of State for Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction Iram Lewis said yesterday.

In November, Lewis said cleanup of the shantytown was being hampered by people who were still living in makeshift homes there. When asked yesterday for an update he said it was still unresolved.

“We still have that issue,” he said outside Cabinet.

“Persons are still there. But again we are making efforts to have that area cleaned and ensure that whatever is rebuilt there is done properly if we are to rebuild there. There will be some no build zones declared, as was stated by the director yesterday.”

He said that there will be some restricted zones “because we have to see how we can minimize our exposure to risk”.

Hurricane Dorian swept over Abaco and Grand Bahama last September, leaving ruin in its wake.

Haitian shantytowns on Abaco were particularly hard-hit.

The government issued contracts for the cleanup of the areas in late September. In late November, Bahamas Striping Group of Companies (BSGC) Managing Director Allen Albury said the company was planning to be completed with the cleanup of The Mudd by December 20.

However, Lewis said yesterday the process is still underway.

“The Pigeon Pea has been completely cleared,” he said.

“The Mudd is about 80 to 90 percent. Once they are cleared, they will be fenced in.”

Last year, the government announced that it would demolish shantytowns throughout The Bahamas.

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.

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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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