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Tuesday, April 25, 2006 

25th April
Real Urban Renewal Needed
At its best, urban renewal is all about seeing to it that Bahamians in need have ready and steady access to government and other socially available services.

Urban renewal is also concerned with trying to buff up the image of the police in the community. So instead of being seen as ‘the enemy’ or the ‘man, police officers are supposed to be seen as friends of the so-called community.

In this regard, it is quite instructive to see what Government propagandists say about the urban renewal project. The key point they make is to the effect that "the Project is bringing some unexpected rewards - not for the persons benefiting from the many programmes established over the years, but for one of the key stakeholders of Urban Renewal, the Ministry of Social Services and Community Development."

As Kim Sawyer, an Assistant Director with the Ministry of Social Services and Community Development and head of the ministry's Urban Renewal Unit notes, "I think that we, as a ministry, have benefited tremendously from the programme as well.'

She explains, 'By forming a unit of the Department of Social Services responsible for Urban Renewal, we have been able to bring relief more quickly to some of the needy persons in the community, and it has further allowed us to form comprehensive alliances within and outside of our ministry that have benefited not only those departments, but individuals seeking our assistance".

Quite evidently, this is all for the good.

No one in their right mind could possibly disagree with people who say that Bahamians should work together for the achievement of the common good.

As noted, "Those alliances include partnerships with government entities such as the Royal Bahamas Police Force, Department of Labour, Ministry of Housing and National Insurance and the Department of Environmental Health Services. Alliances have also been formed with church, business, community and social partners."

And as Sawyer notes, 'We are all here for the betterment of the community and if you wait for persons to come to you, by the time they reach to you the problems are so insurmountable that it takes years and years to deal with them and the clients become frustrated,' says Miss Sawyer. 'By being more proactive and interactive within the community, we have been able to get to some of the problems facing persons in the communities before they reach an advanced stage."
There can –yet again- be few objections to such good intentions.

While all of this is fine as far as it goes, there are other considerations that should be taken into account concerning the efficacy and long-term sustainability of such an initiative.

We are convinced that the time has come for the government and its social partners to get up and get doing on formulating plans, procedures and projects that would catalyze business ventures, empower residents and otherwise see to it that the land these people own is able to grow in value.

Of necessity, this also implies that the state authority would see to it that these areas are all given full access to modern amenities such as electricity, water, schools, health care centers and zoning adequate to each community’s specific needs.

Put otherwise, what we are suggesting is that deliberate effort must be put into seeing to it that these so-called inner city areas become more than social cesspools where plunder, piracy and sub-par living is the order of the day.

Our surmise is that there is a symbiotic relationship in the ways of some Bahamians live and in the miserable conditions others are obliged to undergo. This is borne out in any number of harrowing stories concerning what some unscrupulous landlords are able to get away with as regards some of the dilapidated properties they own. In the mean time, these landlords live in luxury elsewhere on this same island.

This is the kind of situation where opulence for a few is predicated on misery for many. This is what has to be done away with in today’s Bahamas.

No amount of prattle about the need for renewal will ever be sufficient if Bahamians do no reach that point in their understanding that they come to believe that they should make a clean break with piracy, plunder and rip-off as standard operating procedures.

When Bahamians reach that point in their understanding of what it really takes to be a nation-building people, they will simultaneously understand and appreciate the wonder-working power in community solidarity and the need for each to be his neighbor’s brother, sister or friend.

The Bahama Journal - Bahamas News Online Edition
Copyright Jones Communications Ltd. ©2005 - Nassau, Bahamas.

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