Contradiction in The Christie Cabinet on Shantytown Crackdown
June 17, 2013
It was good to hear the Minister of Housing and Environment speak in the House of Assembly on the 13th June 2013 with such passion about the crackdown on shantytowns. The good Minister stated that there would be consequences for those persons who live in such areas if they are not operating within the law. He went on to outline the approach that this government intends to take regarding the notices that will be issued. Minister Dorsett said, “A copy of all of the notices we have served and will serve to the owners and occupiers of shantytowns by the Department of Environmental Health Services will be copied to the Ministry of Works and Urban Development, the Ministry of National Security and the Departments of Immigration and Social Services”.
This statement is certainly in contradiction to the Minister of Immigration’s position when he stated a few months ago that the issue of shantytowns is more complex than it seems because these communities have their “protectors through the elite class of the country”. The Minister of Immigration by his statement and indeed actions or lack thereof left the Bahamian people feeling that there was nothing that can be done by this administration about the shantytowns because of the so called “protectors” and “elites”. The fact of the matter is that nothing has been done about these shantytowns throughout the years and persons living there have been allowed to do whatever they wish! Simply put, administration after administration lacked the political will to rid our country of this vexing problem. And based on the Minister of Immigration’s statement, if these administrations have allowed shantytowns to develop without consequence because of these so called “protectors” and “elites” history would reflect that they have forever done this Commonwealth a tremendous disservice and will not be kind to them.
The statement by the Minister of Housing and Environment expressly states that some notices have already been served. The Democratic National Alliance wishes to know whether notices were served to date on these “protectors” and “elites” as described by the Minister of Immigration. Indeed, the Minister of Housing and Environment seems to indicate that they are aware of who are the owners of the land the shantytowns are on. If this is the case, then is the government willing to divulge who are these “protectors” and “elites” and what sanctions will the government levy against them? The DNA is of the view that many of these shantytowns are owned by prominent PLPs and FNMs, hence their unrestricted development over the years. The shantytowns were indeed “protected”. We await the Minister’s report on who these “protectors” and “elites” are. If we fail to hear from the government it can only be assumed that our assumption as to ownership is correct.
Alternatively, since there seems to be some contradiction in the Christie cabinet on shantytowns is this just pure talk by the Minister of Housing and Environment? Indeed, the country is aware that the PLP government is all talk but very little action. They demonstrated this in their last administration (2002 to 2007) and they are true to form thus far since coming to office in May 2012. Needless to say we have seen that they are the masters of promises. Are these comments by the Minister of Housing and Environment just another set of promises? Remember, that a promise is a comfort to a fool. This administration had “fooled us” in the recent general elections and based on their works thus far they continue to “fool us”. Fool me once...shame on you. Fool me twice…shame on me!