Foreigners will not be allowed to use their work permits to set up shantytowns in The Bahamas, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said on Saturday.
“They are not going to live in any bush,” Minnis said.
He added, “We are not allowing individuals who just received work permits to just go and set up shantytowns or whatever. It’s inhumane and therefore you must show evidence or at least assure us that individuals will be living in comfortable environments.
“Accommodation or some form of accommodation must be provided. We are not going down that road of shantytowns. It is inhumane to hire an individual without ensuring that they have somewhere to stay.”
The prime minister noted that the government will continue to enforce its immigration policies.
Minnis said that no applications for work permits will be processed if they are made within The Bahamas.
“You must apply from [outside],” he said.
Last year, the government announced that it would demolish shantytowns throughout The Bahamas.
However, in August 2018, Supreme Court Justice Cheryl Grant-Thompson handed down an injunction blocking the demolition of shantytown structures.
Shantytowns on Abaco were decimated by Hurricane Dorian in early September.
Many of the residents from those areas are now homeless, and some of the storm’s deaths occurred in shantytowns.
After Dorian, the government issued an immediate six-month ban on the construction of new buildings in those shantytowns.
On October 2, Minnis announced that the government intends to acquire shantytown property on Abaco through compulsory acquisition.
The constitution provides for the compulsory acquisition of land by the government.
On October 7, Fred Smith, QC, who represents shantytown residents, noted that “the injunction covers all shantytown land in New Providence as well as such land on Abaco occupied by specific applicants who are residents of shantytowns in Abaco”.
“We stress that recent events do not change the terms of the injunction, which remains in full force and effect unless and until varied by the court,” Smith wrote in a letter to the Office of the Attorney General.
Attorney General Carl Bethel responded to Smith’s letter two days later, noting that the government had not taken any action “contrary” to the injunction.
“In fact, it ought to have been anticipated by you in any event that Hurricane Dorian created a fundamental change in circumstances which would have implications for the proceedings generally, and in particular for the terms of the current injunction, which might in the circumstances require modification,” Bethel said.