April 11, 2014
Officials from the Ministry of Housing and Environment yesterday tore down a handful of shanty homes in the Pride Estates III area, which distressed some shantytown residents who said they were caught off guard by the action.
However, Minister of Housing and Environment Kenred Dorsett said the government warned the residents from as far back as December to vacate the property.
Dorsett said his ministry had been in dialogue with the residents for months about relocating.
He said he is happy to finally have a handle on the "vexing" problem in the area. Dorsett said his ministry plans to use the land to construct homes. Homeowners in the area said the demolitions were "long overdue".
One homeowner, who did not want to be identified, said the shantytown residents did not dispose of garbage and feces properly.
"It's a good thing because they've been here just squatting for so long and they have garbage everywhere," said one homeowner, who said she has lived in the area for 15 years.
"When it rains and the draft settles you actually can smell everything." However, shantytown residents were emotional about having their homes torn down.
Joshua Rolle, who said he lived in a shanty home in the area since 2002, said he was awakened to the sounds of a tractor demolishing surrounding structures and tried to persuade government inspectors not to tear down his home.
"I don't have [any] place to go tonight. I don't have [any] family in Nassau because I come from Andros," Rolle, a grandfather, told The Nassau Guardian as he began to cry.
He said two children and another adult lived in the home with him. He acknowledged that the structure was not up to building codes but said it was the only home he had.
"We have rights, not only as Bahamians, but every human has a right," said Rolle, standing a few feet away from a pile of rubble from his former home.
"This was a home. It's a home to shelter people from the storm and it did from '91 to now, 2014." Rolle said he had no money to return to Andros but would seek assistance from the Department of Social Services.
A woman, who did not want to be identified, said she did not know that the government had ordered the residents out. She said she returned from walking her son to a nearby school to find a tractor razing her home.
In January, homeowners of the area told The Nassau Guardian that they suspected that residents from neighboring shantytowns broke into several unoccupied government homes, looted them and defecated on the floors.
At the time, Dorsett pledged to visit the area.
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