Shantytown ban issued

The government last night issued an immediate ban on the construction of any new buildings in the four major shantytowns on Abaco.

This comes two weeks after Hurricane Dorian, which would’ve killed at least 50 people and left more than 1,300 missing, including 300 Haitians, tore through Abaco and wiped out many of the shantytowns on the island.

“The minister of housing and the environment has issued a prohibition to build order for The Mudd, Pigeon Pea, Sand Bank and Farm Road community areas located on the island of Abaco with immediate effect,” the Ministry of Housing and the Environment said in a statement.

The order, which is valid for at least six months, mandates that “no person shall erect any new building or development for the purposes of residing or carrying out any commercial activity” in the identified areas.

The ministry said the order may be extended for further periods of up to six months “as required”.

It also noted that the purpose of the order is “to allow for recovery efforts and the removal of storm debris related to Hurricane Dorian”.

“As previously indicated by Prime Minister the Most Hon. Dr. Hubert Minnis, the government intends to provide initial temporary accommodation for all affected residents in safe alternative locations on Abaco,” the statement reads.

The government has been facing legal pushback since it announced last year that shantytowns would be demolished.

The government gave residents of most shantytowns on New Providence until August 10, 2018 to leave before demolition.

Residents in shantytowns on Abaco were to be given until the end of July 2019 to leave.

However, in August 2018, Supreme Court Justice Cheryl Grant-Thompson granted an injunction blocking the demolition of shantytown structures.

The Supreme Court has adjourned the case several times.

It was most recently adjourned to Tuesday.

In the aftermath of Dorian, Minister of Labour Dion Foulkes said the government’s initial plan to demolish the slums was out of concern for residents.

“One of the main motivations, the primary motivation of the government by establishing the Shantytown Action Task Force, was the well-being, safety and health of the persons living in the shantytowns,” Foulkes, who heads the task force, said last week.

“We emphasized this throughout. That was our motivation and that is still our motivation.”

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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