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Shantytown homes marked for demolition

  • The Ministry of Works has marked buildings, which have been vacated by numerous residents, to be demolished. TORRELL GLINTON

Guardian Staff Reporter

Published: Oct 09, 2013

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Scores of makeshift homes in shantytowns across New Providence have been marked by government officials for demolition, while scores of others have already been torn down by landowners, Lennard Miller, head of the Shanty Town Unit in the Ministry of the Environment and Housing, said yesterday.

“I can now report that the removal process of buildings within these unauthorized communities has begun,” Miller said in a statement. “In some instances they are being removed and or destroyed voluntarily by landowners, due to the sustained activity of the government. In other instances the Ministry of Works has marked buildings to be removed where the occupants have already vacated.”

The poorly built structures are marked with the words “break down” so that the demolition teams can identify which buildings are to be destroyed, an official from the environment ministry said.

It is unclear when the government will begin to tear down those structures.

Miller said the unit is working to ensure that all of the illegal communities are cleaned up.

“This, of course, is a work in progress,” he said. “We are on the job daily dealing with this age old problem and have made great strides thus far.”

Miller did not say how many structures have already been demolished or how many are still standing.

The process of removing the homes comes months after Environment Minister Kenred Dorsett vowed to crack down on these communities.

While speaking in the House of Assembly in June, Dorsett said there would be consequences for people who live in shantytowns if they were found breaking the law.

A government report on shantytowns, released earlier this year, found that there were at least 15 of these communities in New Providence.

Researchers found that there was a “marked indifference to the extremely unhealthy conditions by those that occupy the shanties”.

Miller noted that the report outlined that people occupying these communities were living in conditions that were environmentally substandard.

“These communities were informally organized, overcrowded with illegal/poorly constructed dwellings and improper or no sewerage disposal systems,” he said. “There was also the proliferation of derelict vehicles and garbage accumulation.

“The Ministry of the Environment and Housing in conjunction with the Ministry of Works, Urban Renewal and other government agencies will continue to systematically pursue the closure of all shantytowns and improving our living standards.”

Last month, Dorsett said the government may soon prosecute shantytown landowners who have not met environmental and building standards.

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