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Land Of The Free: Minnis Reveals Crown Land Giveaway To Fuel Dorian Reconstruction

PRIME Minister Hubert Minnis.

PRIME Minister Hubert Minnis.

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

PRIME Minister Dr Hubert Minnis said the government will provide Crown land for free in Abaco and Grand Bahama to construct low-cost homes for Hurricane Dorian victims.

The government will install utility infrastructure at the homes at no cost to eventual buyers.

“What it means is the populace will now have land free, which is theirs, and the infrastructure will be free, which is theirs,” he said at a press conference at the Office of the Prime Minister yesterday. “We will then go out via RFP (request for proposals), inviting contractors to build homes meeting certain standards and requirements, therefore the cost of the homes will be greatly diminished by far less than $100,000 because people don’t have to pay for the land, don’t have to pay for the infrastructure and many contractors will build the homes and then sell to the various individuals.”

Dr Minnis, pictured, also gave details about the aid the government will give people rebuilding their homes. The money will be issued in a way that is transparent and accountable, he said, with people only receiving funds after satisfying certain conditions.

“We’ve committed $10,000 for the reconstruction and building of homes,” he noted. “An inspector from the Ministry of Works will go out and make assessments as to the conditions of homes. Individuals can receive $2,500, $5,000, $7,000 or $10,000.”

People whose homes have been completely destroyed will be eligible for the maximum of $10,000. The government is expected to specify the criteria to be eligible for that aid. The recently created Disaster Reconstruction Authority will establish The Bahamas National Recovery and Reconstruction Trust Fund, an independent body, which will help fund home and building repairs.

“The criteria may be, for example, if an individual has three children, if an individual has disabled persons living with them, if an individual is a single parent (they may be eligible and officials will) look at the individual’s income or combined incomes (in making an assessment),” Dr Minnis said. “It’s not essential for me to know your name. Meet the criteria, the trust fund will evaluate and decide yes, they are entitled, they will receive a given amount.”

Dr Minnis stressed that the funds won’t be paid directly to beneficiaries upfront.

“The monies are paid either by voucher to the hardware store and the balance paid to the contractor, but not to individuals,” he said. “Ten thousand dollars, both you and I know that if our homes are destroyed and government or anybody give you $10,000, that cannot build any home. The tendency as we’ve seen before in education, etc, has been to take that $10,000 and go shopping, go on a cruise and buy whatever you want. A policy will be enacted so that once an individual has commenced construction of their home, once they reach a certain level of progression, then they will receive the $10,000 which goes directly into the home and not to Miami or to the cruise industry. There will be complete checks and balances, policy guidelines and in addition to that the minister responsible for this ministry will report to the nation via cabinet and communication every three months as to the expenditure and progression.”

Dr Minnis noted water has been restored in Marsh Harbour and electricity has been restored to the government complex and clinic in that city. He noted Marsh Harbour’s airport also has power and has received approval to open by the US Transport Security Administration (TSA). He said the government has committed $5 million to making urgent repairs and improvements to the airport.

“In areas like Marsh Harbour, many places are not prepared for electrification,” he said. “This remains a central concern. Only buildings that can accommodate electricity will be re-powered. Power has been restored to Green Turtle Cay.”

As for some of the Abaco shantytowns, he said: “The clean-up at Sand Banks is 75 percent completed. The clean-up at the Mudd is 50 percent completed and is expected to be completed by Christmas.”

Dr Minnis noted the Grand Bahama airport is open and has started receiving international flights, with Silver Airlines and Bahamasair resuming services. The government is working to correct the water problem on the island because its salinity level is still too high.

Dr Minnis said the government is working to spur tourist arrivals to this country, but noted the Bahamas is beating some benchmarks for tourism recovery at this point following a major storm.

“It took Puerto Rico 15 months to reach 70 percent of pre-hurricane arrivals after being devastated by Hurricanes Irma and Maria and it took St Martin 20 months after being hit by Hurricane Irma,” he noted. “Just one month after Hurricane Dorian, the Bahamas has reached 90 percent of pre-hurricane arrivals.”

Comments

joeblow 1 week ago

So basically, those who own their own land but had their homes destroyed in Dorian will be at a disadvantage to those who were squatters?

Any day now I expect to see the Haitian flag hoisted over Abaco! Thanks Mr Prime Minister!

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SP 1 week ago

Ha, you must have been away for several years!

The Haitian flag was raised in the Bahamas years ago when then prime minister Hubert Alexander Ingraham told Bahamians they should learn Creol and Perry Christie told Haitians he was "one of them" and hoped to see a Haitian prime minister here!

Ingraham and Christie maybe "hero's" to Haitians, but they are traitors to Bahamians and need to be recognized as such.

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BahamaPundit 1 week ago

This sounds like a Haitian "give away' but I hope it's not. The Government should focus on assisting Bahamians repair homes destroyed in the storm. These Bahamians would still have the property and only need assistance with rebuilding, so the land give away seems like a corrupt scheme. The hurricane is being used as an excuse to enrich cronies.

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observer2 1 week ago

Most of the crown land is low lying and flood proned. UBP took all the high land over a century ago. So when Dorian II hits this land will be 30 feet underwater like Dorian I.

WTH...another housing project full of color fly by night contractors, accountants and authorities. The more things change the more they stay the same.

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geostorm 1 week ago

This seems like a reasonable plan. Let's hope Bahamians benefit from it and not illegal immigrants. A step in the right direction if Bahamians can benefit from this.

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TalRussell 1 week ago

Yeah, no, firstly the intended Comrade recipients Crown Lands giveaways will have face challenges from at back lineups, behind the politically and business connected Imperials red shirts at ready to get their padded slices cuts allocated monies, before a single entitled recipient can even hopes come closer walking away with their leftover reduced share. You can't pretend that this is not way it's going work out, you just, can't.

.

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birdiestrachan 1 week ago

In Grand Bahama where will this land be and what roads will he be building in Grand Bahama. he should have the area in mind before he speaks.

Comparing himself to other countries. All should remember Ragged Island he has done nothing for them . just cheap talk and lies.

Mealy mouth big liar doc.

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TalRussell 1 week ago

Yeah, no. Is it wrong spoke out that comrade FREE porters must first decide if they truly want become a real Out Island to benefit from colony's central government's PopoulacesPurse - or remain as subjects living under control of a privately owned Quasi government?

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moncurcool 1 week ago

Why would people whose homes were destroyed need crown land to rebuild? This completely mystifies me.

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TalRussell 1 week ago

Ma comrade Moncurcool, 80 percent of every piece vacant land in FREE port is leftover lands from 1960's Sir Stafford and and Wallace Groves The Hawksbill Creek Agreement .... every square foot FREE port's vacant land is still being milked dry for ever red penny by its owner, the private Quasi government. You can't make this up, you just, can't.

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My2centz 6 days, 13 hours ago

The only sites that have essentially been condemned in the aftermath of Dorian are the former shanty towns. Its obvious this is a ploy to grant land to illegal squatters as they suggested previously. I think Fred Smith is the leader of this country. What a sad reality that Haitian ( Haitian descent) are the priority in Bahamas.

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killemwitdakno 2 days, 2 hours ago

I take it East End needs somewhere near to relocate for now. Including the college.

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The_Oracle 1 week ago

His shining glory was announcing international flights have resumed to G.B. He specifically mention Silver airways and Bahamasair. They have not. BahamasAir did one charter flight to "test " the temp terminal created out of the small FOB facility. Dude. Don't lie. Man up and apologize to the Bahamian public for your ineptitude and promise to do better.

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BahamaPundit 6 days, 16 hours ago

In the US or other first world countries, you don't hear of governments giving away land after a hurricane. This makes no sense. Reconstructing homes is the normal assistance a government undertakes, but "free property" is not. Giving away property has nothing to do with hurricane reconstruction whatsoever.

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killemwitdakno 2 days, 2 hours ago

The devastation was due to flooding along the coast and in lower lying areas. Therefore setting up inland and up high is required since there’s no country taking everybody.

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killemwitdakno 2 days, 2 hours ago

That awesome. Require that they be round and multi story with hurricane roofs ,flood and mold proofing.

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