Officials from the Ministry of Public Works and Utilities along with the minister responsible, the Hon. Alfred Sears toured the Blackwood area in North Eleuthera where illegal structures have been erected. Minister Sears warned that any further construction should cease or the law would be actively enforced.

The structures, which house approximately one hundred residents, are on Spanish Wells commonage land. The Minister said, “these irregular communities which we have not had the opportunity to inspect. We’ve spoken with the commonage committee, they’ve not given permission for anyone to build on the property and our building control officers have indicated that no applications were made, no inspections were made.”

The delegation found that some of the buildings were equipped with electricity, water and surveillance equipment, all without the proper permits to build.

Chairman of the Spanish Wells Commonage Committee, George Sweeting said the committee was reformed in 2018 and that they met the problem in existence. He went on saying, “from 2019 til this present, it has exploded. We have documented photographic evidence of 168 either new additions or new homes being built with no permission from the Commonage Committee.”

Government officials are concerned as the illegal community grows. Minister Sears said, “but we cannot afford and we will not tolerate unpermitted construction of this magnitude in the middle of the country because the people in these communities are at risk. We saw what happened in The Mud, we saw what happened in Pigeon Pea. We cannot allow a situation that can become a mass disaster.”

Minister Sears says the next step is to launch a full investigation to find out who the residents are, whether they are lawful and how they are obtaining utility connections.