Minister of Public Works Desmond Bannister.
By LEANDRA ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
WORKS Minister Desmond Bannister has vowed to clamp down on all unsanctioned construction on Andros, insisting that once assessments have been made on the island, officials will then formulate a plan to deal with the issue in a lawful manner.
“I understand that there are a number of structures in Andros,” he said yesterday.
“I’m going to personally go to Andros and take a look at what’s happening, and my ministry is going to formulate a plan to deal with them.
“We are going to be relentless in ensuring where illegal structures exist, those illegal structures will be taken down. I think all of you are aware of the limitations we have within the Building Controls Act and so there are certain things we have to do.”
“… So, I will be personally going to Andros and taking a look at them and formulating a plan of action.”
In February, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis said there had been many complaints about illegal immigration in Andros and he vowed to deal with the problem in a humane manner.
Days later, Agriculture and Marine Resources Minister Michael Pintard confirmed officials had begun posting eviction notices on the shanty town structures on the island. At the time, it was estimated the move could possibly displace 1,800 people.
However, in recent weeks, some Andros residents have expressed frustration with the illegal structures reportedly being built on Crown land, insisting the issue has still not been properly dealt with.
Sources close to The Tribune have even claimed some residents in North Andros were clearing Crown land to construct their homes there since undocumented migrants were being allowed to do the same without consequence.
North Andros MP Carlton Bowleg has since dismissed the claims, saying the false information was being spread by Progressive Liberal Party propagandists.
Yesterday, Mr Bannister said it had been brought to his attention that most of the illegal structures could possibly be situated on private property on Andros.
“I’m understanding that a lot of these illegal structures may be on private land and these pose dilemmas for us and so we’re working with the Attorney General to get the proper wording for notices to ensure that we are compliant with the law because the last thing the government wants to be is non-compliant,” he added.
“As much as we want to see us get rid of those structures, we have to ensure that we live up to the law otherwise we’re going to have judgments against us - we don’t want judgments against the government.”
Mr Bannister said eviction notices will be handed out to residents there in a similar but “more precise” exercise than that previously seen in Abaco.
“It’s going to be a similar exercise but it’s going to be much more precise and whatever we do again in Abaco is going to be equally as precise,” he added.
Last week, Mr Bannister confirmed eviction letters had been posted on some 50 newly built structures on Abaco since June.
Central and South Abaco MP James Albury told The Tribune on Monday the government was now working “to renew” some of those notices to ensure they are compliant with the law.
Yesterday, Mr Bannister said of the move: “Those notices are going to be renewed to ensure that if anyone takes action in the courts that we are well within our rights to do it notwithstanding the fact that someone may break the law, we still have to act within the law when we are seeking to get rid of those structures.
“…We’re going to renew anything that is over 56 days so if they’re over 56 days, we’re going to renew them and we’re going to ensure that they are brought to the attention of the people who live there.”