The government will take “appropriate action” in a Treasure Cay, Abaco, shantytown known as The Farm, according to Minister of Public Works Desmond Bannister.
Bannister told reporters outside Cabinet yesterday that repeated plans to deal with the unregulated communities that continue to pop up on Abaco, even after Hurricane Dorian, have been halted by court orders.
“One of the challenges with The Farm, and I think I would have spoken to the press before, was that right after the hurricane there were actually some families that were living there,” Bannister said.
“So, we had a demolition crew in there and because of the people living there and the previous court orders we could not do what we wanted to do in there.
“Those court orders prohibit certain things and when I was there, I saw some of those things happening. So, the government now is going to take appropriate action in relation to those buildings.”
Bannister and several government officials visited a few of the shantytowns on Abaco two weeks ago.
During the inspection of the shantytowns, the body of a man was discovered in a tent in The Farm.
At the time, Bannister said the man appeared to have been sleeping in the tent with a generator.
During that tour, officials said the shantytown community has grown to more than 1,000 homes.
The Farm, like several other shantytowns, has a mixture of residents, Bahamian and non-Bahamian.
Bannister was asked about the Bahamians who claim they have been promised things by the Minnis administration and subsequently allowed to build on the land.
“Yeah, that’s nonsense,” Bannister responded.
“What has happened though, you’ve seen the generators for yourself and you’ve seen the roads for yourself. Those roads are built by heavy equipment that are owned by Bahamians. Those generators didn’t come into the country just like that. They came in with the help of some Bahamians.
“The things that are happening there, with respect to construction, there are some people who are unfortunately involved. I mentioned a number of government agencies and believe me, we’re not going to tolerate anybody who does anything that is not in line with government policy.”
Bannister said recommendations have been made that require inter-agency cooperation and that “very soon” there will be some “action”.
The minister did not specify what the action will be or how it will affect the court order.
In August 2018, Supreme Court Justice Cheryl Grant-Thompson handed down an injunction blocking the demolition of shantytown structures.
The government has been seeking to have the injunction lifted.
After Hurricane Dorian in 2019, the government imposed a six-month ban on building in shantytowns.
Bannister said despite any criticism, the government is moving to rid the country of those unregulated communities.
“I think it’s very easy to criticize a government,” he said.
“I think you saw our resolve, with respect to The Mudd. You saw our resolve with respect to Pigeon Pea, both of which are now fenced in and nobody’s there. You saw our resolve with respect to Sandbank, again another place where there were many homes and you saw what we did. And you now are going to see our resolve with respect to this community.”