NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Agriculture and Marine Resources Minister Michael Pintard yesterday said the government will take the necessary action to ensure all Crown Land in North Andros is free of illegal dwellers and structures.
He made the statement while updating Parliament on the discovery of E. Coli contamination on the island.
“The department ensured that not a drop of city water was negatively affected,” the minister said during the mid-year budget debate.
“BASRA in conjunction with other agencies sprung into action, testing at least 25 wells, reported to the public, convened a public meeting, ensured that an anti-microbial wash was put in place at BAMSI and in the packinghouses to wash all fruits and vegetables leaving North Andros; to shutdown unregulated transport; and to informed all stakeholders was put in place.
“Signed upon the advice of the attorney general, a stop order, and we are constantly monitoring and testing and that pilot project will of course then be moved throughout the Commonwealth of The Bahamas thanks to all who have participated.
“We have moved very quickly and issued eviction notices for those persons who are illegally occupying agriculture land an in short order their will be an expiration of those notices, and we will take the necessary action in necessary to ensure all government land is vacant — of persons and of structures that have been erected.”
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis acknowledged the complaints of illegal migration to the island earlier this month.
At the time, Minnis pledged enforcement would be conducted in a humane manner.
Eviction notices were posted on more than 150 shantytown structures in San Andros and Mastic Point on February 5, giving those resident 30 days to leave.
Island Administrator Joseph Ferguson said last week the population of residents in the unregulated communities has grown from around 900 people to close to 1,800 since the passage of Hurricane Dorian last September.
Last week, Eyewitness News toured the San Andros shantytown and spoke to several residents, who said they have nowhere else to go and pleaded with the government for more time.
There is an ongoing judicial review of shantytown communities in New Providence and Abaco.
The government gave shantytown residents of New Providence until August 10, 2018, to evacuate those communities, and residents of shantytowns in Abaco, until July 31, 2019 to leave.
However, days before the deadline attorneys representing 177 shantytown residents filed for judicial review on the government’s eradication program and were granted an injunction barring the government from removing those structures.