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‘1,410 residents in 10 shantytowns’

The remains of a razed shantytown on Hamster Road, off Faith Avenue North. FILE

A survey of shantytowns in New Providence found that 1,410 people reside in those communities.

In total, 428 households were assessed.

The New Providence Shantytown Assessment Report, 2018, released by Minister of Labour Dion Foulkes yesterday, shows that the Carmichael constituency has the largest representation (44 percent) of such households, followed by Golden Isles (31 percent) and then Elizabeth (25 percent).

The average shantytown household size is 3.3 people.

The report identifies 10 shantytowns: Montgomery Avenue, Allen Drive, Bellot Road, Golden Gates Road, Lazaretto Road, Cowpen Road (west), Bacardi Road (east), Bacardi Road (west), Lumumba Lane and an unidentified shantytown.

The report says 23 percent of the assessment forms did not capture the legal status of the heads of household interviewed as part of the survey. For those whose legal status was captured, it was demonstrated that only a minority (six percent) was undocumented, it adds.

“By extension then, the overwhelming number of shantytown residents report having legal standing to be in The Bahamas,” states the report, prepared by Dr. Cherita Moxey of the Ministry of Health.

But there was no indication whether the people interviewed showed any proof of status.

While 23 percent of the residents’ statuses was not captured, and six percent was recorded as being undocumented, 15 percent of the residents reported being citizens of The Bahamas; 21 percent reported being permanent residents; 32 percent reportedly have work permits and three percent have spousal permits, according to the report.

Fifty-two percent lived in a shantytown for at least one year and eight percent resided in a shantytown for less than one month.

The report goes on – of the 428 heads of households interviewed, 77 reported to be self-employed; 161 worked for an employer and 94 did not work.

The work status for the remaining 96 heads of households was not captured.

The results also show that collectively, for both the heads of households and other occupants, 42.5 percent (or 600 people) in the shantytown population in New Providence report working in the last six months.

The majority of households (75.7 percent) reported total weekly incomes of under $400.

The survey also reports on whether there are utilities in the various shantytown households.

Ten percent of households have cable television; 22 percent (96) have indoor running water; 30 percent (132) have indoor flushing toilet facilities; and 47 percent (200) have electricity with two predominant sources of electricity – generators (54 percent) and BPL/BEC connection (35 percent).

The assessment was performed over four weeks.

The Minnis administration has pledged to “humanely regulate and elevate the living conditions of persons residing in shantytowns”.

Foulkes leads a multi-agency secretariat and task force charged with executing this reform.

The report says, “The reform initiative would result in the demolition of shantytown structures that were not compliant with national building codes and involve a mechanism to identify regulated mainstream housing options for relocation and integration of affected individuals and families”.

Foulkes reiterated yesterday that all shantytowns in The Bahamas will be cleared, including the large shantytowns in Abaco, but he said a challenge is finding low-cost housing for shantytown residents, particularly on that island.


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