THERE will be many who applaud Immigration Minister Elsworth Johnson for firing back at the United Nations over the issue of shanty towns.
He has been bullish in his response after the UN raised concerns over issues of adequate housing, homelessness and poverty.
Mr Johnson criticised people who live in their ivory towers, they sit all the way where they are and they seek to cast judgements on Third World countries when what exists in their very own country are these issues.
His response is very much rooted in stirring up feelings about sovereignty and patriotism, as if hes asking who are these people to be coming over here and telling us were not handling these problems right.
It also very much fails to deal with any of the actual concerns that are raised. Snarling at UN experts doesnt stop what theyre saying from being true.
So ignore the red herring of sovereignty of course, The Bahamas has sovereignty, no one said it hasnt. Instead, lets look at what the experts actually said.
UN officials warned a community of Haitian descendants and migrants of up to 2,000 people is at a serious risk of becoming homeless.
If these homes are destroyed, they have nowhere else to go. You dont need the experts to know that, of course. Abaco is still struggling to repair after Dorian you know there is no space for 2,000 people suddenly without a roof over their heads.
More to the point, this isnt something new. Shanty towns have been in The Bahamas for decades. They wouldnt exist if there was more than enough accommodation for everyone.
Many of those now facing eviction are those who have been affected by Hurricane Dorian in the first place. As the UN team says, After several months of living in evacuation shelters, many of the survivors had to completely rebuild their homes it is these that the authorities intend to destroy.
All this in the middle of a pandemic.
The government is quite right to try to find a way to stop shanty towns being an eternal issue but its going the wrong way about it.
Simply knocking down the buildings without a plan for where the people will go will just see more houses being built and were back at square one.
Many of these people have legal status in this country as a survey in 2018 of shanty towns showed. And many are being employed in Abaco to help rebuild after Dorian. Part of the reason for that is, again, a lack of anywhere to stay for Bahamians. If youre a builder or a carpenter in Nassau and someone wants to hire you to fix a house in Abaco, where do you sleep at night while you work?
It is absolutely right that people should not be allowed to just start building on a piece of land they do not own but we need to see why these things happen. Remove the reasons before the problem develops deal with the cause and not just the symptom.
As for Mr Johnson, well, he goes on to talk about the problems facing Haiti and wanting to know what the UN is saying to governments who have created the socio-political phenomenon that causes Haiti to be the way she is today and What are they saying about the people who are assisting people who are dying on their way to The Bahamas?
We never hear from Mr Johnson himself on what he suggests The Bahamas do about these issues Haiti is our neighbour so dont we have a part in tackling such problems? We dont hear Mr Johnson talking about Haitis sovereignty in that regard.
No, it seems hes just trying to bark louder than the UN in a fight about sovereignty that doesnt exist while ignoring the actual problem that needs dealing with.
As the saying goes, there are none so blind as those who will not see.
A ROUND of applause for the outcome of a court case in the US. A Florida fisherman was caught illegally fishing in Bahamian waters. The outcome? He has to buy the Royal Bahamas Defence Force a new boat that can then be used to catch the next illegal fisherman, and the next.
A crime punished, the prospect of others getting away with crime reduced. Lets have more of that kind of punishment over here and make the criminals help those who would catch them.
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