After conducting a walking tour of the fire that destroyed over 50 homes and displaced about 170 people in the shanty town known as the Mudd, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said that the government would not continue to use “band-aid” solutions but seek to “solve the problem.”
After touring the affected, area and shelters for the victims, Dr. Minnis held a press conference where he said that the time has come for a solution to the shantytown problem.
“We were tackling shantytowns throughout The Bahamas at this particular time,” the prime minister said.
“We had established a Cabinet committee that was looking at this to find a solution to solve the problem once and for all. It was unfortunate that this occurred.
“At this present time we intend to cordon off the area so that there would be no building on the area that was destroyed.”
When asked if there is a chance to widen a path for the sake of Police, Fire and Emergency Services having better access in the area, Minnis said it would make it appear that government is okay with the shanty town and he won’t condone it.
“That area has broken every regulation and law and safety standard in the country,” he said.
“I cannot condone it. By profession, I’m a doctor before a politician. We don’t believe in the Band-Aid method. We believe in just going straight to the chase and solve the problem. That is what we will do.
“We cannot Band-Aid any longer.”
During his press conference, Minnis suggested the shantytown residents take advantage of the government’s planned housing program.
“We have an ongoing housing program that we are initiating very soon,” he said.
“We will have town meetings going forward with the community, those that were affected and those that were not affected.
“We will encourage them to join the formal economy as opposed to the enclosed economy. We would also encourage them to purchase land and build homes so that they could have quality homes just like everyone else as opposed to confined to an area that is presently unsafe.
“Many individuals within the community are entitled to buy land just like me or anyone else,” he said. “They would be given a fair opportunity like everyone else. But this problem must be solved once and for all.”
“It may be painful initially but at the end of the day we will have a great outcome that everyone will be happy.”
Public Works Minister Desmond Bannister pledged Monday that the government would destroy any new structures built in The Mudd, adding that “You are going to see that area, which was demolished by the fire, cordoned off.”
“You’re going to see no-build zones created. You’re going to see social services come in with certain humane services.
“But you’re also going to see that people are not going to be allowed to get illegal electrical hook ups anymore. You’re going to see that there is going to be surveillance,” he said.
Mr. Bannister said that they will use drone footage so that if any new houses are built, they will detect them and demolish them.
“You’re going to see a multi-faceted strategy that has never, ever been employed in this country with respect to the problem that has been created over many years.”
Mr. Bannister said the government owns a lot of the land that comprises The Mudd.
“One of the critical problems with Abaco is the government is a violator,” he said. “A lot of that land is owned by the government and we have been negligent as a government as has been many governments over the years in letting this happen.”