Thousands displaced following Dorian’s destructive path over Abaco, GB
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Two weeks after Hurricane Dorian laid the shantytowns in Abaco to waste, the government has issued a cease order with immediate effect that seeks to prevent anyone from building or developing in those five communities.
These include he Mudd, Pigeon Peas, Sandbank, Farm Road and Elbow Cay.
Dorian pounded the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama between September 1-3, claiming the lives of a confirmed 50 people — 42 in Abaco and eight in Grand Bahamas — and displacing thousands, many of whom resided in shantytown communities in Abaco.
According to the order issued by the Ministry of Housing and the Environment, “no person shall erect any new building or development for the purposes of residing or carrying out any commercial activity in the identified community areas”.
The ministry said the purpose of the order is to “allow for recovery efforts and then removal of storm debris related to Hurricane Dorian”.
“This order is made in accordance with Section 24 (1)(b) of the Planning and Subdivision Act, 2010 and the Planning an Subdivision (Prohibition to Build) (Abaco) Order, 2019,” the statement read.
“As previously indicated by Prime Minister the Most Hon. Dr. Hubert Minnis, the government intends to provide initial temporary accommodation for all affected residents in safe alternative locations in Abaco.
“The order is valid for six months, but may be extended for further periods of up to six months as required.”
The government has temporarily suspended the deportation of immigrants living in areas impacted by Hurricane Dorian, though it has said it will not provide asylum.
A reported 80 per cent of residents in the shantytowns in Abaco have some form of legal status, according to a survey completed last year by the Shantytown Action Task Force (SATF).
Last year, the government announced plans to demolish shantytowns and set deadlines for residents to relocate.
In New Providence, the government gave residents of shantytowns until August 10, 2018, to vacate the areas.
Days before they were set to be demolished, the shantytown residents got a court injunction blocking the demolition.
The applicants have filed for judicial review.
The government set a deadline of July 31, 2018, for residents in the five shantytowns in Abaco.
Last week, Minister of Labour Dion Foulkes said one of the main motivations for the government’s initial plan to demolish the shantytowns was out of concern for the residents.
Foulkes, who heads the SATF, last week that was still the government’s motivation.
While Foulkes has said the committee is ready to move as soon as the injunction if lifted, the court has yet to deal with the matter, which has been adjourned several times.
In May, the matter was adjourned to June.
In June, the court hearing seeking to prevent the eviction of the shantytown residents was adjourned to September 12.
The respondents in the matter include Prime Minister Foulkes; Dr. Hubert Minnis, who has responsibility for lands; Attorney General Carl Bethel; Minister of Public Works Desmond Bannister; Bahamas Power and Light; and the Water and Sewerage Corporation.