Govt. closing in on shanty town dwellers in Andros

Govt. closing in on shanty town dwellers in Andros
A makeshift wooden home in a shantytown in San Andros.

AG’s office preparing in the event of non-compliance

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The government is moving forward with plans to remove residents illegally dwelling on Crown Land in Andros after serving those residents eviction notices 30 days ago, according to Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources Michael Pintard.

An estimated 1,800 people reside in the shantytown communities in Mastic Point and San Andros.

Eviction notices were posted on more than 150 households of February 5.

The deadline was yesterday.

In an interview with Eyewitness News, Pintard said: “We are in discussions, ongoing discussions, with the Attorney General’s Office in terms of the next steps that we are going to take to ensure that all residents — Bahamian as well as non-Bahamian — comply with the law.

“We are also in contact with the Ministry of Public Works, which has responsibly for ensuring that whenever structures are erected, persons are complying with the building code and getting the requisite permits in order to proceed.

“And so, we are talking with various government agencies that have responsibility to make sure that the laws of The Bahamas are obeyed by all and sundry.

“The next step for us is simply then to enforce the law.

“And that is as much as I would say.”

Asked for specifics, the minister said: “There have relevant protocols that they have been following; necessary investigation; preparing court documents in the event there is non-compliance. Those discussions have gone on in preparation for the deadline.”

E. Coli was discovered in the private well system on the island earlier this year.

The contamination of the water table did not impact the public water system.

Local government officials claimed the source of the outbreak had been sourced to unsanitary practices stemming from a growing shantytown community in the Mastic Point area.

Some of the residents on the community operate large-scale farms on Crown Land.

The contamination was confirmed after a test commissioned by a private citizen indicated the presence of E. coli and faecal streptococcus in January

Pintard said following that complaint, the government commenced testing of the water and fruits and vegetables; issued a stop order before proceeding to serve eviction notices.

The BAHFSA alerted the Ministry of Agriculture, and an investigation into the extent of the groundwater contamination was conducted on January 13 and 14.

While tests revealed the presence of E. coli in the groundwater, BAHFSA said the results were inconclusive relative to faecal streptococcus.

Speaking to the possible conditions that led to the contamination, DaQuin Scott, chief councilor for the North Andros District, said: “The main contributing factor is sanitation; that they do not have proper sanitation. There are no toilets; no cesspit tanks — everything is like open bore holes; open, however they discard of their waste; just throwing on top of the soil, noting that we have a water table, which you can dig six to eight inches and you actually enter into the water table.”

Eyewitness News recently toured the Mastic Point shantytown community in an area known as The Codd and spoke to residents, who said they have nowhere else to go and pleaded with the government for more time.

Garbage littered the outskirts of the area.

The makeshift homes were erected with misshapen plywood and metal sheets.