FINAL COUNTDOWN: Govt set to demolish more homes in The Farm today

FINAL COUNTDOWN: Govt set to demolish more homes in The Farm today
Rihanna Nervillien's five-year-old sister Diamond Delhomme stands amidst rubble in The Farm shantytown in this November 11, 2019 photo. Her family lives in Farm Road. (FILE PHOTO)

Some Farm residents with nowhere to go say they will “wait and see” what happens

ABACO, BAHAMAS — After placing final eviction notices on remaining shantytown homes in The Farm, Abaco, earmarked for demolition, the government is expected to tear down those unregulated structures today.

The notices affixed to homes yesterday in English and Creole read: “Final demolition notice. To owner/occupants. Warning. This structure will be demolished on Friday, May 7, 2021 (or soon thereafter without further notice). You must vacate immediately.”

A demolition notice posted on a home in The Farm shantytown on Abaco.

The residents Eyewitness News spoke to, including one woman who lives on Farm Road with her family, did not wish to be named for fear that the government would disadvantage them from any housing opportunities.

According to at least one resident of The Farm, while some have opted to leave in search of housing elsewhere, there are those who will “wait and see” what happens today.

“If the government could have us rent, it would be good for us. If we could rent that way, we could pay,” said one resident facing demolition.

“I don’t see the government is willing to do that.

“These notices was put up. But where are we going to go? What are we going to do? We have been searching for places to rent, but the government knows because of the storm — it destroyed everything — they have not been able to build anything and we cannot find any.”

According to the resident, housing options remain limited on Abaco — an island that remains in a state of recovery after Hurricane Dorian, a record storm, decimated portions of the island in September 2019.

Asked what will happen tomorrow when heavy equipment arrives to tear down the home, the resident said: “I don’t know, honestly. We have to wait and see what happens.”

This week, Minister of Public Works Desmond Bannister indicated the government was prepared to move ahead with the third phase of its operation to demolish structures in the Abaco shantytown.

He said when the operation is finished there, “we are going to go in other shantytowns”.

A judicial review of shantytown demolition before the Supreme Court has yet to be ruled on.

A total of 177 shantytown residents made the legal bid for the court to protect their homes.

An injunction was granted in 2018 protecting those homes from eviction, and from the homes being disconnected from services of demolished.

While counsel for the applicants has sought for the court to expand the injunction to cover all shantytown structures until the completion of the judicial review, at current the homes being demolished are not subject to the court matter — an argument Bannister has made to continue demolition of structures in The Farm and elsewhere.

However, Bannister has advised that 30 structures in the community will not be demolished.

A resident of one of those structures, who explained that her family built years ago, said the government has not affixed a notice to their home.

She explained that residents met as a community several weeks ago to discuss the demolition and the need to ensure the area remained clean.

About Royston Jones Jr.

Royston Jones Jr. is a senior digital reporter and occasional TV news anchor at Eyewitness News. Since joining Eyewitness News as a digital reporter in 2018, he has done both digital and broadcast reporting, notably providing the electoral analysis for Eyewitness News’ inaugural election night coverage, “Decision Now 2021”.