Minister of Labour Dion Foulkes said yesterday the government’s Shantytown Action Task Force is “ready to move” whenever an injunction banning the demolition of shantytowns is lifted.
“As you know, there was an application made before the Supreme Court and the judge put a hold, an injunction on our work, the Shantytown Action Task Force,” said Foulkes, who heads the body.
“We were well on the way to dealing with all of the shantytowns in New Providence – some 11 – from last summer. And this summer, July 31, a few months ago, we were supposed to deal with all the shantytowns in Abaco.
“But, as you know, the injunction stopped our work so we are awaiting the final decision of the Supreme Court before we can move forward. But, we are ready to go. Whenever that injunction is lifted, we’re ready to move.”
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.
Last week, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced that he will instruct the attorney general to return to court and seek to have the injunction lifted.
Yesterday, Foulkes noted, “We did a comprehensive report that took months to produce. [O]ver 100 civil servants that went into all of the shantytowns throughout the country and we produced a report for New Providence which we made public. We produced a report for Abaco which we made public.
“So, we have a very good idea in terms of the amount of persons in the shantytowns, the conditions in which they live, some of the social challenges, some of the law enforcement challenges.”
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.