Saturday, June 15, 2013

The proliferation of shanty towns in The Bahamas is a vexatious problem

Crackdown On Shanty Towns

by Kendea Smith
Jones Bahamas

Environment Minister Kenred Dorsett said the government is going to crackdown on shantytowns in The Bahamas as it poses a threat to the country’s number one industry.

“The proliferation of shanty towns is a vexatious problem. They operate outside the requirements for proper sanitation, without regard to the building code and in violation of safety requirements for electricity,” he said during his budget contribution in the House of Assembly.

“The Department of Environmental Health Services is taking steps to proactively address all of these infractions and other environmental issues surrounding the proliferation of shanty towns throughout the country. A special project unit (SPU) was created within the ministry of the environmental and housing to address the environmental health issues associated with shanty towns.”

The minister said a special project unit headed by an assistant director in the DEHS benefited from a report on shanty towns throughout the islands of The Bahamas prepared by BNGIS.

He added that existing reports on identified shanty towns in Nassau, Abaco, Exuma and Eleuthera are being updated and new reports are being prepared in respect of shanty towns for which the Department of Environmental Health Services has not conducted an investigation.

“As we get more empirical data, we are astounded by the amount of Shanty towns popping up. But what I do want to tell the people of The Bahamas is this – they will be hearing from me in more weeks to come on this very same issue. What is important to know is that the protocol of operations to be followed in dealing with the shanty towns has been established. A copy of all notices served and will be serving on the owners and occupiers of shanty towns by DEHS will be copied to the Ministry of Works, the Ministry of National Security, and the Departments of Immigration and Social Services,” Minister Dorsett said.

Minister Dorsett said the Ministry of Works will serve notices it may deem appropriate and shanty town occupiers and/owners will be required to provide an occupancy certificate, approved building plan/permit from the M.O.W, approved BEC connection and approved by Water & Sewerage connection. If these cannot be produced the Ministry of Works will also be able to take necessary action.

“When I began this discussion earlier this year, it is clear to me that the vast majority of our shanty towns are actually on private land. But what was interesting to me is that the owners of those private parcels of land have sought me out. Two families in particular have told me that they have approached administrations with a view to assisting them. Some have indicated that they own the land, they have titled documents but they have not been able to get these people off their land,” he said.

“And so this administration is going to take a proactive approach because from a public health standpoint the bottom line is we cannot continue business as usual. One outbreak of Cholera and our number one industry [will be] gone. So this is not something that we can play with.”

June 14, 2013

The Bahama Journal