The success of Urban Renewal 2.0
It is my humble submission that Urban Renewal 2.0, despite the occasional hiccup, is working and is succeeding within the inner city areas of New Providence. Some of the detractors and others who may subscribe to a politically different view than PLPs are quick to condemn and criticize the value and benefits of the same.
I have long held that a massive police presence within the urban renewal program is crucial to its success or otherwise. The bulk of our home grown criminals and other societal miscreants live and operate within our local communities. Generally speaking, we know who they are and many of them look just like us.
With the police actively patrolling on the ground, petty crimes have been noticeably reduced. The occasional alleged homicides are still occurring, especially as they may relate to domestic disputes. It would be difficult if not impossible for the police or other components of urban renewal to stop a domestically related offense because no one knows in advance what a perpetrator may or may not do within the confines of a residence.
Housebreaking, purse snatching and crimes which could be committed in public, however, are a different kettle of fish. A heavy police presence, the demolition of abandoned and derelict buildings have brought relief to many within their respective inner city communities.
In addition, the active partnering between the police and other components has led to the ‘discovery’ of individuals who are living in sub-human conditions and crime havens. It has also increased the capability of the police to gather crucial intelligence from members of the respective communities.
Deputy Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis (PLP-Cat Island) is to be commended, along with all of the related components and individuals, for the magnificent work currently being done within Urban Renewal 2.0. The recent appointments of Cynthia ‘Mother’ Pratt and Algernon S.P.B. Allen, both former members of Parliament and Cabinet ministers will prove to be the icing on the proverbial cake.
They are both passionate about our people on the ground and have both been active in ministries which have impacted tens of thousands of ordinary Bahamians. Indeed, they are both products of the inner city and are able to empathize with those who continue to live, work and play therein. Prime Minister Perry Gladstone Christie (PLP-Centreville) made an excellent choice with their timely appointments.
With the success of Urban Renewal 2.0, however, there must be strict compliance within the law. Buildings should not and cannot be demolished without the consent of the certified owners and/or the appropriate court order. Petty criminals must be assured of proper investigations by the police and, where charged, they must be brought before a competent court in short order. Allegations of police brutality should and must be kept to the minimum.
The Ministry of Social Development has its work cut out. It is a vital partner within Urban Renewal 2.0. The Minister and her hard working staff must ensure that those who apply for assistance are, in fact, qualified to so do and not merely seeking to fleece the public purse. Jobless individuals must be integrated into a job training skills program and weaned off expectations of living “the life of Riley” without having to work for it.
Where we find overt alcoholics and drug addicts, they must be persuaded to allow themselves to be institutionalized and seek out-patient treatment. A casual observation would reveal that a large percentage of the residents of New Providence are hooked on something of an addictive nature. Too much productivity is being lost and low productivity is killing the gross domestic product (GDP).
Conflict resolution courses within our schools and civic organizations, especially the collective church, must be mandated. Statistics have shown that many conflicts, both within the home and the wider society, could be avoided and/or reduced if individuals were taught just how to resolve relatively simple conflicts before they escalate into serious matters.
I wish to thank all stake holders on the apparent success, so far of Urban Renewal 2.0 and encourage them to continue their stellar work on behalf of a grateful Bahamian people.
Yes, Utopia will not come about any time soon but as The Bahamas continues to evolve as a nation, if we all do our part and play whatever role we are able to perform best, I have absolutely no doubt that we are on the right track.
— Ortland H. Bodie Jr.
August 17, 2012