Residents of the shantytowns in New Providence will have a few additional days to pack up their belongings and evacuate all unregulated buildings, Minister of Labour Dion Foulkes announced today.
The government has extended the deadline for shantytown residents from July 31 to August 10.
Foulkes and members of the Shantytown Action Task Force (SATF) gave out final notices to the residents of the 11 shantytowns in New Providence this morning.
“They have 28 days from today to move,” said Foulkes, who heads the taskforce.
“Notices will be given to persons and notices will also be attached to every dwelling home in the shantytown.”
The minister explained that the extension was given on the advice of the attorney general.
“It changed because of the first notice we had to give, which required a 14-day lead period,” he continued.
“The attorney general gave us advice on this just in case it goes to court we want to make sure we’ve covered all legal grounds and there’s no possibility of what we’re doing being stopped.”
The final notices were issued two weeks after the task force advised residents to present valid building permits or occupancy certificates to the Ministry of Works.
Foulkes said up to this morning, only nine people had presented building permits. However, he said none of them had occupancy certificates.
Additionally, he said 10 people applied for building permits.
“All of that now is in abeyance,” Foulkes said.
“We’ve put a stop to that process and there will be no new building permits issued for any construction for any shantytowns in New Providence.
“We are investigating the circumstances as to how those building permits were issued because all of the land with exception to one is crown land leased by the government to Bahamians for the purpose of farming. So this will be the final notice.”
Foulkes said the task force will also assess the number of animals in the shantytowns. The Canine Unit of the Ministry of Agriculture along with the Human Society accompanied the taskforce today.
“There are a lot of animals in the shantytowns, dogs, cats, pigs, goats and chickens,” Foulkes said.
“We intend to trap them all and house them all and those that we can put up for adoption, we intend to do so.
“The government will make a decision on what to do with the other animals.”
Foulkes said he has been advised that up to 70 percent of shantytown residents have moved out. Several of the residents who remain in the shantytowns said they have no where to go.
Education: Benedict College, BA in Mass Communications