Thursday, October 10, 2019
By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Deputy Chief Reporter
A BAHAMIAN man who breached the parameters of a permit to construct a two-storey building has for the last two years been barred from occupying the structure on which he spent “all of his life savings”.
By contrast, people living in shanty towns have been allowed to build hundreds of homes that are sub par according to the building code.
“What type of law do we have?” Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis questioned yesterday as he drew this comparison, suggesting that laws governing construction in the country have not been evenly applied.
“Using good judgement and relocating to higher ground or a safer area or building before the storm as advised could save your life and that of your family,” the prime minister also said during debate in the House of Assembly.
“You know we always talk about code and many people don’t like me to say this (but) it is a fact. Just opposite my headquarters a young man built a structure. He had a permit by law to construct this building - two storeys.
“He went three storeys (which is) outside the law. Two years later the law will not allow him to open his building.
“All of his life savings. He breached the law one additional storey and the authorities forbid him from opening up and earning a living and in fact it was recommended that he shave off the third floor in compliance with the law and the permit.
“But others are able to build without any permit number. What type of law do we have, Mr Speaker?
“One set of law for one individual and another set for another? I have been fighting for the longest to have mercy on this young Bahamian who has used all of his money and went three storeys and asked to shaved off one.
“What he (is he) gonna use? A chainsaw?”
Dr Minnis acknowledged the building’s owner broke the law, but said common ground should be met by allowing him to pay a fine for breaking the rules.
According to Dr Minnis there were numerous examples like this one.
As Hurricane Dorian pummelled Abaco a little over a month ago, many were forced to flee poorly constructed shanty town homes. The situation was compounded by the flood prone nature of The Mudd, Pigeon Peas, Sand Banks and Farm lands.
In some instances, storm surge reached as high as 20ft.
With nowhere to go, many sought shelter at the government clinic and complex that houses the Office of the Prime Minister and courts among other things.
However, Dr Minnis said the government is now faced with $2m dollars in damage done by people occupying the clinic as Dorian continued its rampage.
“During the hurricane, The Mudd was devastated,” he told the House.
“During the eye of the storm hundreds of individuals fled from The Mud and into the government complex – (the) Office of the Prime Minister, the court and inclusive of the clinic.
“There would have been hundreds of individuals seeking refuge and relief.
“I’ve been informed the clinic was minimally damaged. (It is) structurally sound (and) it stayed in tact but I’ve been informed that as a result of individuals seeking shelter in the clinic they would have damaged up to $2m in medical equipment.
“Not the storm. The individuals who rushed, damaged some of our most vital instruments and equipment to the tune of $2m that has to be replaced.”
The prime minister said using good judgement and relocating to higher ground, a safer area or building before hurricanes as advised could save lives.
The death toll tied to Hurricane Dorian is 61 and has remained unchanged for nearly a week.