Categorized | Editorials

Tackling a Really Big Issue

For some time now, it has become both chic and cute to say that shanty-towns are a major problem in The Bahamas; that these so-called ‘Haitian’ villages pose a tremendous risk to public health and that with houses having been built too close together, with some homes being powered by stolen electricity connected by low hanging wires, and with large communities with inadequate or no sewerage systems, these ‘shanty’ towns are public health hazards.

There are conclusions that “for some reason, [especially in New Providence], the agencies of the government responsible for policing this problem have failed.

What matters now has to do with finding out how things can be righted; how effective policies can be put in place and as to how those people living in these places can be made to pay their fair share of the taxes needed by the government if it is to do what must be done to improve life for people living in these villages.

We insist that every man, every woman and for that matter, every working person should – within reason – be made to pay their fair share of the taxes that provide the basis for the revenues needed by those who are charged with doing the people’s business.

It therefore follows that we should not continue with policies laced with pretence which allow thousands of undocumented workers to get by without paying their due and fair share of the tax.

We are quite certain that they would do so were they not so dreadfully afraid of being ‘caught’ detained and repatriated; thus the creation of that nether world of corruption where crooked public officials routinely collect their own corruption rents

This is nothing short of a mess.

Mercifully, it can and should be cleaned up.

There is no doubting the matter at hand as regards the current administration and what we consider its resolve to tackle the so-called big issues.

One such ‘big issue’ involves finding resolution to that matter involving reception and settlement of any number of strangers who wish – for whatever reason – to make a home for themselves in The Bahamas.

We can only welcome such people once we know who they are, why they are here, how they arrived; whether they are vectors of disease or whether they pose a risk to public safety and whether [on reception] they are prepared to pay their fair share of the taxes.

Once satisfied on these matters, we could then proceed to provide these people with status in this land.

In addition, we might see to it that such status cannot exceed that of providing these people with permanent residence and that their children should be given – as their birthright citizenship in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

We make these points in a context where we know for sure that there are times in life when those who would lead have nary a clue as to where they would go or for that matter where they would or could guide others.

Put as simply and as charitably as we might, these happen to be instances where the blind are called to lead many who are also blinded to the truth.

A major case in point has to do with how The Bahamian people and successive Bahamian administrations have sought to deal with the so-called “Haitian” problem in this land.

For as long as we can remember – policy towards these people and others such have come down to a dread mix of dither, dawdle, delay and on occasion, rampant corruption.

Bahamians have been totally and thoroughly ambivalent concerning what some of them describe as a ‘vexing’ issue.

Much of this vexation and trouble derives from the fact that – at long last- Bahamians and their Haitian hosts are becoming that kind of Bahamian who is living so to speak betwixt and between two or more worlds.

Indeed, any visit to any of the places where these newest of Bahamians live would show that so-called Haitian villages are home to not only Haitians; not only so-called ‘illegals’ or for that matter not only to people who can be described as strangers.

At its most fundamental level, we should deal with strangers with love and with respect and out of a desire to love our neighbour as we love ourselves.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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