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Minister Warning Over Shanty Towns

Minister of Works Desmond Bannister.

Minister of Works Desmond Bannister.

By LEANDRA ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

lrolle@tribunemedia.ent

ANY non-governmental organisation found employing or helping undocumented migrants build illegal structures on government land will be dealt with according to the law, according to Works Minister Desmond Bannister.

His comments came after he told reporters ahead of a Cabinet meeting yesterday about the government’s plans to halt further unregulated development of shanty towns on Abaco. The issue of shanty towns resurfaced last week after aerial photos circulated online, showing new construction taking place in a shanty town community known as the Farm Road.

Yesterday, the minister questioned where shanty town dwellers may have gotten the “resources” to erect the unsanctioned structures.

He said: “The challenge that I have throughout the country right now is that these people are having the resources to put these buildings up and the questions I have to ask is where are they getting these resources from?

“Who is employing undocumented agents throughout the country where they get resources that they can have these buildings put up throughout the country and it’s not just Abaco. It’s happening in a lot of countries and in New Providence.

“And we as Bahamians as we look forward to celebrating our independence this week, we have to take a hard look at what we’re doing in our own country because at one hand we are giving people money to be able to do things and then the other hand, when they’re putting up these buildings, we’re trying to ask the government to stop it. “

In an interview with The Tribune last week, chairman of Treasure Cay local government Stephanie Hield said she believed shanty town dwellers were receiving building supplies from different NGOs and second homeowners on the island.

Some sources close to The Tribune have also noted that some were even being employed by the NGOs to assist with the recovery efforts on the island.

Asked about the matter yesterday, Mr Bannister said he was not aware of the situation, but will have the issue looked into.

“That’s the first time that I heard that and I will certainly raise that with my colleagues,” he said.

“But I don’t know of that happening and certainly if NGOs are not complying with the laws of The Bahamas, appropriate action will be taken because we can’t have anyone coming into the country and doing things that are against our laws.”

Before Hurricane Dorian decimated them last year, shanty towns across Abaco had more than 1,000 homes and an estimated population size of 3,500, according to government reports.

However, two weeks after the storm hit the island, the government issued an immediate ban on the construction of any new buildings in the four major shanty towns on Abaco.

To assist with the debris removal in the communities, the Minnis administration awarded contracts to several companies last year. Several shanty towns, including The Mudd, Pigeon Peas, Sandbanks, has since been cleared.

However, officials have faced obstacles in clearing the Farm Road community due to it being occupied by a number of inhabitants.

Noting that government is dealing with the situation lawfully, Mr Bannister said: “My offices from the ministry (in) Abaco has gone to everyone one of those new construction and affixed a notice on it. The law requires that we follow a particular process and so the first step in that process is to put notices on the buildings.

“After we follow that step, then there’s another step for us to follow and you will recall that when the government did not follow these steps was where the courts intervened, so we have to strictly follow the steps that the law requires.

“We have to ensure that we are ourselves law abiding even though the persons who put the shanty town buildings are not.”

Comments

tribanon 1 month ago

Just how stupid can Bannister be? There's no "non-governmental organisation" resurrecting new shanty town communities in Abaco. The Haitians themselves are doing all of the illegal building of their own new shanty town homes as they have always done. How much longer is Minnis and his other fellow cabinet members going to put up with Bannister? The sooner Bannister is jettisoned from the cabinet the better! Bannister is the most incompetent and useless Minister of Works the Bahamas has ever had and he would be equally incompetent and useless in any other cabinet post. Just do the right thing and get rid of him from cabinet.

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joeblow 1 month ago

Stop talkin', start bulldozin'!!

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Hoda 1 month ago

Some ngos are doing this.

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birdiestrachan 1 month ago

Banister is talking to him self. he is not the immigration minister.

he should get really busy by stopping the construction of illicit dwellings. If they were Bahamians they would be hand cuffed and shackled and made to do a shuffle to the courts. with cameras flashing.

Banister stop the lies. most Bahamians know better.

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bogart 1 month ago

Seems Government Officials always need to have eyes tested to see whether there is a visible Notice sign, posted at the construction site like the words "Building Permit #number listed" which seems to be the challenge of Govt paid officials not seeing construction site permission of these structures. Challenge to ask persons to see visibly to read the info of the signs if they cannot see the "Building Permit" sign. A forward view is to also have these posted "Building Permit #number" also in bilingual for construction. The Government approved "Building Permit #number" signboard should be planted and the first activity on the proposed site before the area has completed structures and the "Government "Building Permit#number" signboard falls down.

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mandela 1 month ago

Talking fool is a very serious thing. This is the same person who said any corporation or entity that digs up the road and leaves it unpaved will be fined $10,000.00, all over Nassau there are dug up roads left unpaved for months and no one has yet been fined. Talking fool is a crying shame.

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bahamianson 1 month ago

Listen man just deal with them and stop warning.

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bogart 1 month ago

Repeated illegal construction in any Community or Island clearly goes on with the seems approval of Govt Official or leaders in communities.. Dynamics in communities have someone or group in charge. Almost certain any island community is without leaders in control of community.

The illegal construction Shantytowns going on is only a MINOR part of the thousands of ILLEGAL HUMAN TRAFFICKING which over the decades have never caught any Boat Captains of the vessels, caught any employer of illegals, never caught anyone harbouring, sheltering, aiding and so on in this illegal Human Trafficking chain NETWORK which involves lots and lots of money. Some estimate persons are charged thousands of dollars per passage smuggling of person.

All this decades continuance of this illegal Human Trafficking of the deathly , dangerous process visible signs Shantytowns erected etcetc could NOT be the incompetance of Govt Officials ability to stop it. It seems to have a VALID continuous reason why these illegal offences continue to exist and in the face of majority of law abiding population and laws of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas.

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Dawes 1 month ago

Why not just tell everyone to read your last warning and that of the PM a couple years back. It worked so well then, i am sure it will work this time as well

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moncurcool 1 month ago

Would the Tribune please ask the Minister to detail the process for dealing with illegal construction and the timeline involved please.

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