NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Ministry of Works and Family Island Affairs has initiated a demolition exercise aimed at addressing the issue of shanty towns.
The Ministry will soon begin issuing notices to the owners of structures located in unregulated communities. These notices will provide a 28-day window for the owners to remove their structures.
In a statement, the Ministry emphasized that failure to comply with the notice could result in the Minister of Works taking action in accordance with Section 4(3) of the Building Regulations Act. This action may involve removing and demolishing illegal structures, with the expenses incurred in this process being recoverable.
To effectively address the safety concerns within unregulated communities in The Bahamas, the Ministry has established the Unregulated Communities Action Task Force (UCATF).
“Unregulated communities can be described as undeveloped communities that have engaged in the illegal building of structures that breach the Act and The Building Code,” a statement from the Ministry noted.
“Unregulated communities have long posed significant risks to both residents and the wider community due to their lack of adherence to safety standards and zoning regulations. These communities lack some of the very basic necessities such as sewage and waste disposal, clean water, safe electricity supply and the proper setbacks needed for safe building structures.”
It continued: “This process is committed to securing the highest level of humanity and dignity. The Ministry of Health and Wellness and the Department of Social Services are partners in this process and will reach out to each household within unregulated communities to determine household make-up and needs.
“Given that some existing residents within these communities will need to resettle/re-locate into regulated housing, the UCATF is seeking to identify potential rental units in New Providence and all islands where unregulated communities exist.”
In February, Supreme Court Justice Cheryl Grant-Thompson discharged an injunction that previously barred the government from demolishing structures in shanty towns in New Providence and Abaco. The injunction stemmed from a judicial review application brought by shanty town residents in 2018 into whether their removal is unconstitutional.