Demolish the Shanty Towns– Give Them one Year’s Notice
Allow Locals to Build Reasonable and Affordable Apartments – Give them concessions/exemptions on the construction materials
The development of shanty towns is increasing at an alarming rate in the Turks and Caicos Islands. The majority of shanty towns consist of structures that were not only illegally build but were constructed on land that do not belong to them.
I recalled a few years ago, when the planning department provided eviction notices to individuals so that they can start the process of demolishing the illegal shacks but unfortunately, both of the political parties were timid and more or less spoke out against the planning department decision to demolish the illegal shacks in Five Cays at that time.
I know it is the plan of the Turks and Caicos Islands Government to enforce the building codes. However, the building codes do not apply to shanty towns as these individuals are building without a planning permit anyway and so the code is not applicable.
The building codes apply to individuals who submitted or plan to submit plans to the Planning Department for approval.
If we want to enforce building codes on legal structures, then we should be bold enough to enforce the demolition of the shanty towns.
Unfair to Others
When locals or other residents construct a legal structure, they must abide by the building codes. If for any reason, they would to build an illegal structure attached to their homes such as wash house, the relevant authorities will be the first to ensure they get rid of that illegal structure.
Another unfair point is that there are some residents who have built very nice homes but the value of their homes has decreased dramatically because they are surrounded by shanty towns.
Another issue is that some of these same individuals are working in our restaurants and hotels and we are unsure of the sanitary condition which may pose health issues.
Is this fair? It is time to demolish the shanty towns.
Give Them adequate Notice
I am conscious that it will require adequate time for these residents to find suitable alternative housing given that we already seem to have a shortage of accommodation especially on the island of Providenciales.
By giving them adequate notice, this will provide them with time to find other housing. This will also give others an opportunity to construct apartments to accommodate individuals.
Therefore, the writer is proposing a one-year notice. However, we must ensure that while this notice is being honoured, there are no new shanty towns being developed.
Do not be Afraid
I understand that some civil servants are afraid to go in these areas where the shanty towns are located. Some are afraid because of several issues. TO combat this fear, civil servants should be accompanied with the Police Department.
Some politicians may be afraid due to the impact it may have on the outcome of an election. They do not want to lose any votes and so they may be silent on this issue. Be Bold politicians even if it means losing an election because of your support for the demolition of shanty towns. Quite frankly, I don’t even think that their votes will make a difference. If you fear this, then ensure that this is a bipartisan approach. I know one thing any government that can deal with the issue of shanty towns will get an overwhelming support from the electorate.
I know there is also a fear from International Bodies regarding human rights and discrimination. What about our rights?
No action, more shanty towns
Should we fail to address this issue, our country will continue to be plagued with shanty towns. It is already out of hand. By not doing anything, we are encouraging the promotion of shanty towns in our country. When individuals see no action being taken, they will continue to build more shanty towns. In fact, some of them brag about it.
We have labelled the Turks and Caicos as “Beautiful by Nature” but if we do not watch out, these shanty towns developmentwill surely give us another name, “Ugly by Nature”
The government must enforce that every employer needs to provide a physical address of their employees, showing that the employee has a utility bill to provide evidence of residence. I know this can cause employers to lie about the address of their employees. However, random checks should be made to verify the physical address of employees particularly those on work permits.
We need to invest in drones to identify the location of these shanty towns. Once identified, we need to provide eviction notice to the residents
The Government needs topromote and identify some crown land and allow individuals to build appropriate housing accommodations. Alternatively, the Government must encourage individuals to invest in private land and build accommodations to house individuals.
Demolish the Shanty towns within a year and block access to the areas. We can build community parks in some of these areas where the shanty towns are or we can have a housing development.
The Government must establish a ministry of Housing to address the shanty towns fiasco.
The Government should provide concessions to individuals so that they can construct affordabale and reasonable housing.
The issue of shanty towns has been around now for many years. However, until we show people that we are serious about getting rid of shanty towns, shanty towns will continue to develop in the Turks and Caicos Islands. I know there may also be some locals who are building shacks and renting it to individuals as well. This too is unacceptable and should be dealt with.
This issue is out of hand and it is not the Turks and Caicos we know. Be bold and demolish these shanty towns. The Bahamas is well ahead of their plan to demolish the shanty towns despite cries of discrimination.
Turks and Caicos , let us get rid of shanty towns and develop a proper housing structure for our country.
August 11, 2018