NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Minister of Immigration Elsworth Johnson said he intends to travel to Abaco with other government officials over the weekend to address a growing challenge concerning shantytown communities repopulating on the island.
“We will be there addressing that issue,” Johnson advised Parliament.
“We know that a court order was given [and] no structure, irregular structures, were to be built outside of that order Mr Speaker. We went there last weekend, we went to the laydown sites and there were some critical observations that we made — the representatives from the Attorney General’s Office, from the police.
“I want to commend the minister of works, social services and a number of other agencies which are partnering to address this issue in a humane and dignified way, respecting the dignity of the human persons who are on the ground.”
Earlier this month, Minister of Public Works Desmond Bannister said the new construction of unregulated structures continues in The Farm shantytown in Abaco.
He said government agencies continue to closely monitor the challenging situation, and have affixed legal notices on every dwelling in the area.
Asked how many occupants reside in The Farm area, the minister said he did not have the figure available at the time.
As of last November, an estimated 75 families remained.
The government planned to clear four shantytowns in Abaco following Hurricane Dorian, which wiped out two of the largest unregulated communities, along with portions of the island last September.
Three communities were cleared, including The Mudd in Marsh Harbour, The Peas and Sandbanks.
According to the minister, The Farm could not be cleared because those of those occupants and the court order with respect to how the government ought to proceed.
Following the storm, the government issued a cease order with immediate effect for the four shantytown communities it planned to clear to prevent anyone from building or developing in these areas.