All of the properties where shanty towns are located in New Providence are owned or leased by Bahamians, according to Labour Minister Dion Foulkes, who recently conducted an audit of the illegal communities ahead of government’s July 31 eviction deadline.
As the government looks to map out a plan to legalize these communities, where 70 per cent of residents have legal status, Foulkes said on Tuesday that they won’t be “rushed” or “pressured” to make the right decision.
“We also have to remember that 40 per cent of those who reside in these communities are children, so we have to be sensitive. And over 70 per cent have a right to be here, so, we have to be careful of how we deal with these matters,” Foulkes said.
“We have a plan to follow and we have given this a lot of consideration. The plan is very precise and we have to do it in a methodical way.”
Foulkes added that he had fruitful meetings with the Haitian religious community last week and this week, he said, he hopes to meet with the owners of the land to give them an opportunity to correct the matter.
“They all have a legal vested right of land in The Bahamas,” the minister said.
“This week I meet with lease holders of the land. All have the legal vest of right of land in Bahamas. I want them to rectify the situation.”
A preliminary assessment report of 10 shanty towns in New Providence found that a total of 1,410 people reside in these communities, with 428 such households across the capital, with the largest being in the Carmichael constituency.
Of the 428 heads of households interviewed, 71 per cent are here said to be here legally, while 23 per cent were unknown and six per cent were said to be undocumented.