Labour Minister Dion Foulkes.
By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Deputy Chief Reporter
THE government’s shanty town census in New Providence has been completed, Labour Minister Dion Foulkes announced, as the government prepares to evict residents from homes in these illegal communities.
Before eviction notices are handed out, officials plan to hold public meetings – one in Carmichael Road - to inform the public of the government’s timeline to conduct certain activity, Mr Foulkes, chairman of the government appointed shanty town committee, told reporters yesterday.
He said he also plans to meet with the lease owners of the land where the shanty towns are built to advise these persons of the notice period to have them take legal action.
Mr Foulkes said a similar survey will begin in Abaco at The Mud and Pigeon Pea shanty towns at some point in the middle of this month.
He gave this update before heading into yesterday’s Cabinet meeting.
“(The eviction notices are) a legal requirement that’s done by the Attorney General’s Office and the Ministry of Works,” Mr Foulkes said in response to a question from The Tribune on whether notices have been sent. “But there are certain time periods that have to be given and those notices will be given with those authorities.”
Earlier in the interview he said: “We went out on three consecutive weekends including last weekend. The surveys are completed. We have supplied the information to the Department of Statistics and they are in the process of compiling the information.
“Hopefully we will have a report for you maybe next week Wednesday because I want to present the results to Cabinet first and we do intend to make public all of the information.
“I have some preliminary results, but it’s like 80 per cent (of) the results that I currently have so we can tell everyone exactly what our timeline is what the notice period is in terms of what it is for the residents to move.
“Our next step is to do some public meetings especially in the Carmichael Road area. We intend to have two town hall meetings - one in the shanty towns themselves and another one for the subdivisions around the shanty towns - so we can tell everybody exactly what our timetable is, what the notice period is in terms of for the residents to move and we are also having a meeting with all of the lease holders of the land of the shanty towns.
“They are all Bahamians so we intend over the next week or so to have a meeting with them to advise them of the notice period to have them take certain legal action.”
There are 11 shanty towns in New Providence – eight of which are in the southwest part of the island and the remaining three in the eastern district.
Four others are in Grand Bahama along with several shanty towns in North Eleuthera, North Andros and Abaco.
After much delay, the shanty town survey began last month with the minister declaring that any structure not meeting the building code would be demolished.
Back in March he told The Tribune that officials would use the summer months so as not to disrupt the academic year of children who are enrolled in school. This, he said, was in a bid to treat the issue with sensitivity.
Through a 13-question survey, the government sought to ascertain how many residents are in each shanty town, the age groups, whether the children are in school and whether there are any people living there with disabilities among other things.