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Deadline for shantytowns

The government intends to tear down shantytowns on Abaco by the end of July 2019, Minister of Labour Dion Foulkes said.

“The shantytowns in Abaco are much more complicated than the arrangements that are made here in New Providence because of the lack of alternative housing in the Marsh Harbour, Dundas Town and Murphy Town area,” he said.

“The standing committee over there, which is chaired by Senior Administrator Maxine Duncombe, and has about 50 persons from the private sector and the government on that committee, they are going to come up with recommendations as to alternative places that the residents can relocate to.

“I do not want to preempt what they are going to recommend. I would await their recommendations.”

Foulkes chairs the government’s Shantytown Action Task Force (SATF). The task force aims to deal with the regularization of shantytowns throughout The Bahamas. Foulkes has said that the committee’s work will seek to eradicate shantytowns throughout the country, and “results” from that work are expected by the summer.

Abaco has at least three major shantytowns – The Mudd and Pigeon Peas and Sandbanks. According to a shantytown report compiled under the Christie administration in 2013, The Mudd and Pigeon Peas had 900 homes, and Sandbanks had over 100 at the time.

Foulkes said he did a tour of the shantytowns in March but learned that a shantytown is on Elbow Cay as well.

“We intend to visit that cay,” he said. “I think we have it scheduled for the beginning of June.”

Some residents in the Mudd said they are uncertain what they would do when the government moves to destroy the community.

“If they are going to tear it down, what happens to the people that live here longer than I do, and who have children who [were] born here and [are] living here?” Anthony Jeremy, a resident of The Mudd for three years, asked.

Foulkes’ comments came the same day he released the New Providence Shantytown Assessment Report, 2018.

The report found that 1,410 people reside in those communities. In total, 428 households were assessed.

The report says 23 percent of the assessment forms did not capture the legal statuses of the heads of household interviewed as part of the survey.

For those whose legal statuses were captured, it was demonstrated that only a minority (six percent) were undocumented.

The report 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.

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.

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).

Travis Cartwright-Carroll

Assistant Editor at The Nassau Guardian
Travis Cartwright-Carroll is the assistant editor. He covers a wide range of national issues. He joined The Nassau Guardian in 2011 as a copy editor before shifting to reporting. He was promoted to assistant news editor in December 2018.
Education: College of The Bahamas, English

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