Minister of Labour Dion Foulkes.
By AVA TURNQUEST
Tribune Chief Reporter
THE government is working on an enforcement plan to prevent the expansion of shanty towns in the country, according to Labour Minister Dion Foulkes yesterday.
Mr Foulkes said officials will be careful not to breach the Supreme Court order that prohibits the government from dismantling those communities pending a judicial review.
“We are speaking to the Ministry of Works and also to the police to work out a mechanism to ensure that that happens,” he said outside the Cabinet Office. “We do not want to breach the overall order so we have to be judicious in how we approach that.”
The government was granted a variation of the August 2018 injunction blocking evictions and service disconnections in an order filed on March 14.
The adjusted order prevents those residents from altering or expanding those communities unless in compliance with the Building Regulation Act.
The government sought a variation of the order in October 2018, claiming it was made aware that certain residents or occupiers of shanty towns in New Providence had “continued to engage in the construction, erection and alteration of buildings or structures” within those areas without obtaining building permits, in violation of the Buildings Regulations Act. It said such activities “injure the public interest in the proper enforcement of planning laws, creates risk to human safety by the construction of sub-standard housing, and is detrimental to the orderly development and use of the environment.”
Last August, Supreme Court Justice Cheryl Grant-Thompson ordered the government and utility providers to halt any planned service disconnections or evictions in shanty towns pending a judicial review of the Minnis administration’s policy to eradicate those communities.
The injunction prohibits the government, directly or through its agents, appointees or employees, from taking possession of, demolishing any building on, or otherwise interfering with the enjoyment of land in shantytowns in New Providence by the 177 applicants for the judicial review, as well as other residents and occupiers of those communities, by disconnecting any utilities “other than pursuant to the relevant enabling legislation” pending the determination of the action or until further order.
Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis, Attorney General Carl Bethel, Mr Foulkes, Public Works Minister Desmond Bannister, Bahamas Power and Light, and the Water and Sewerage Corporation are listed as the respondents.
Non-profit group Respect Our Homes Limited (ROHL), Luanne Nonord and the 177 residents are listed as the applicants.