Shanty towns sheriffs head to Abaco

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Government’s shanty town committee is expected to head to Abaco this weekend to review the site of the most recent fire and other unregulated communities on that island.

The delegation, which will be led by Labor Minister Dion Foulkes, is also expected to review the health and safety of residents who remain in The Mudd community.

The committee will also visit the Pigeon Peas community on that island as well.

The group, was formed by the government to directly address the prevalence of shantytowns in The Bahamas. The body is expected to review these unregulated communities and provide government with recommendations on how to tackle the dismantling of these communities.

Preliminary reports compiled by the committee indicate there are 11 shanty towns in New Providence, four in Grand Bahama and several in Abaco, North Andros and North Eleuthera.

The most recent fire in The Mudd on March 3, revealed that unregulated generators were rampant within that community. This, the committee said, poses a huge safety concern.

“Literally you can see from the photographs about 20 or 30 different wires coming from the generators going to different houses. That is not only a serious health and safety issue, but it is also illegal,” Foulkes noted.

The 40-member committee is comprised of a number of officials from public and non-governmental organizations.

He said, “We want to have a comprehensive approach from a community-based aspect. Whatever we do we want to have the minimum amount of resistance within these communities.”

The committee is said to be working in tandem with a number of Haitian pastors, who are helping to get relevant information and access, which the committee needs to carry out its agenda.

While the end goal is to eradicate shanty towns, Minister Foulkes shared that the entire process has to be approached and handled with diligence.

“The majority of the residents in the shanty towns have a legal right to be in The Bahamas,” he said.

“You have some living there who are Bahamians. You have some who are Haitian-Bahamians who got citizenship through naturalization. You have some with spousal work permits and others with work permits. They all have a legal right to live here in The Bahamas.

“It’s no secret that there are illegal immigrants who also reside in these shantytowns. It will be the job of the Immigration Department to address that.”

Minister Foulkes is expected to provide an update of the committee’s findings and solutions moving forward once the weekend trip is complete.