AG files summons for court permission to demolish shanty towns

AG files summons for court permission to demolish shanty towns
Attorney General Ryan Pinder.

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Office of the Attorney General has filed a summons seeking permission to demolish the expansion of a shanty town in Abaco and two locations in New Providence.

Shanty towns on both islands are protected by a Supreme Court injunction blocking demolition or further construction pending a judicial review into whether their removal is unconstitutional.

“Despite the injunction, some residents and occupiers have continued to construct and alter buildings without obtaining the necessary building permits, which violates the Building Regulations Act,” read the AG’s press statement.

“This illegal activity threatens public safety, undermines proper planning laws, and hinders the orderly development and use of the environment. The Office of the Attorney General remains committed to ensuring that all residents and occupiers comply with relevant regulations and guidelines to ensure the safety and well-being of all Bahamians.”

The judicial review application was brought by shanty town residents in 2018, and the injunction was later expanded to cover all of Abaco in 2021.

At that time, Supreme Court Justice Cheryl Grant-Thompson ruled the government must get permission from the court for any demolitions in shanty towns on Abaco.

The summons was filed on Friday.

The summons read: “The ground of this application is that since the grant of the order of this Honorable Court dated the 9th June 2021 it has come to the attention of the Respondents that some of the residents and occupiers of the land in shanty towns in New Providence and Abaco have continued to engage in construction, erection and alteration of buildings or structures within the said Areas without obtaining building permits in violation of the Building Regulations Act.

It added: “Such activities injure the public interest in the proper enforcement of planning laws, create risk to human safety by the construction of substandard housing, and is detrimental to the orderly development and use of the environment.”

About Ava Turnquest

Ava Turnquest is the head of the Digital Department at Eyewitness News. Her most notable beat coverage spans but is not limited to politics, immigration and human rights, with a focus especially on minority groups. In 2018, she was nominated by the Bahamas Press Club for “The Eric Wilmott Award for Investigative Journalism”. Ava is deeply motivated by her passion about the role of fourth estate, and uses her pen to inform, educate and sensitize the public.