Family Islanders who have been leasing Crown land from the government will be given the properties they are leasing, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis has announced.
“Most important in the Family Islands, one of the things we find, a lot of people would have built on government Crown land,” said Minnis at a town hall meeting at Mangrove Cay, Andros.
“They would have leased land and been promised they will get the land, and still nothing happened.
“And yes, you would have heard me talking about establishing [a] land audit, and there was a reason we want to do the land audit because we find that two [or] three people were given the same land, so we’re trying to bring organization.
“But the audit is moving a bit slowly while individuals would have been promised, they built, etc.
“And I know Nassau [is] listening, so Nassau listen very carefully.
“What we’re going to do, a lot of people in the Family Islands would have had homes… built businesses and they are leasing.
“Over the next few weeks we want you to call in so that we know who you are, and we are prepared to grant you that land, give you the land free title so that you can take that land, go to the bank, you own it. You can borrow money, expand your business, because the government [is] no longer leasing the land; it’s your land…”
The prime minister indicated that the government’s plan for these land grants will extend to other islands like Acklins.
Minnis added, at a stop in Nicholls Town, that those who have been living on land initially purposed for the Bahamas Agricultural Research and Training Development (BARTAD) project will be given the land.
“Now, those on BARTAD, when we campaigned we made a promise that we would regularize the land for those individuals who have been occupying land by BARTAD for a very long time,” Minnis said.
“I can say to you tonight that Cabinet has approved the [granting] of the land to you.”
BARTAD was a family farming project launched on Andros in January 1973 by the United States Agency for International Development with the purpose of agricultural research.
The plan was to build family farm prototypes which would serve as seedlings to developing other sustainable family farms on different islands.
A number of farms were developed on 40 and 80-acre properties, populated with vegetation and livestock and homes were erected to accommodate the families.
However, the project failed, leaving families living on large plots of land that they did not own.