Shanty towns land reclaimed by govt., set to be demolished

Senator Dion Foulkes.

The government will take possession of 10 of the 11 shanty town properties, after the existing homes are demolished and the land is cleared, according to Chairman of the Shanty Town Task Force Senator Dion Foulkes.

Foulkes said that the properties were leased for 21 years but those leases are now expired.

However, despite admitting that the previous landowners broke the law by renting homes to shanty town residents, it is unclear whether the landowners will be charged.

“There is an application before the Supreme Court by a person claiming that he owns the land (one of the 11 properties), but that has not been settled,” Senator Foulkes said.

“The remaining 10 is crown land and is government land. That’s why we are doing a complete review and the Attorney General’s office and the police are going to do a full report… At the appropriate time, the cabinet will make a decision as to what to do.”

Of the 1,500 shanty town residents, only 10 have applied for housing assistance and 14 females have presented the government with building permits. Colin Wright, a labour consultant said, many residents are still in denial about the closing of the shanty towns.

“They still don’t believe this [is going to] happen. I don’t think the reality set in yet with them. I got a call this morning about some people seeking housing… but they are waiting to see the tractor first. That’s the kind of attitude they have,” he said.

However, Foulkes said, those homes do not have occupancy certificates and will still be demolished. He also said most of the persons residing in these illegal communities have jobs and can pay rent.

“About 99 per cent of residents in the shanty towns who are able and who have the ability to work are working. Our survey showed that there was almost full employment in terms of those persons who wanted to work,” he said.

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This article was written by JINELLE LONGLEY, Eyewitness News intern.

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