The practice of living on a boat whether abandoned or rented is being frowned upon by Government and the practice is now under scrutiny to eradicate it. This disclosure was made by the Minister for Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration, Hon. Vincent Wheatley during the 27 February continuation of the House of Assembly.
Hon. Wheatley told the members of the House of Assembly that it was drawn to his attention that some residents are choosing to live on vessels as opposed to renting apartments and houses. “Mister Speaker, it has come to my attention that a number of persons who reside or either work and reside in the Territory live on boats throughout the Territory,” the Minister stated as he noted that the law was consulted on the subject.
However, it was noted that no specific or direct reference to this situation was discovered. Nonetheless, he stated that the legal stance on the matter is clear: “Mister Speaker, although the immigration act is silent on this issue, the spirit of the law confers that living accommodations in the Territory should be land-based.”
Further Hon. Wheatley alluded that after the 2017 hurricanes Irma and Maria where a number of properties were destroyed persons sought shelter where they could. In such instance and at that time it was deemed understandable for people to live on boats that were available and worthy.
Years have passed and the Minister said that this is unacceptable: “…we acknowledge that housing has been a challenge since the storms of 2017, However, living on boats should not be a long-term solution. Long term residence on boats in the Territory can and will cause serious damage to our environment,” Hon. Wheatley stated.
Therefore the Minister has called for persons currently involved in this practice to stop it. “This practice must be discontinued”. In fact, the Minister has promised to take action to thwart this, “I will put measures in place to correct this ever-growing practice,” Hon. Wheatley told the House of Assembly.