Minister of Tourism and International Transport Richard Sealy says the housing situation in Barbados is approaching crisis proportions.
Speaking this afternoon on a resolution for the compulsory acquisition of five parcels of land at Welchman Hall and Sturges in St Thomas to redevelop Harrison’s Cave and provide an access road to the tourist attraction, Sealy said the problem had become a national issue, with about 20,000 people still waiting for homes.
He said the “slum lordship” had worsened the state of housing on the island with a number of families now renting single rooms and living under unacceptable conditions.
On the question of the high cost of house building, he suggested that Government may have to source different types of low-cost materials that would reduce the construction bill.
Former Minister of Housing and Lands, now Minister of Transport and Works, Michael Lashley told Parliament that the new building code will send up the cost of construction in the island. However, Lashley made it clear that Government could not sacrifice quality and safety for cost.
While the Opposition supported the resolution in principle, parliamentary representative for St George South Dwight Sutherland asked the Government why it continued to acquire fertile agricultural land for the purpose of building houses.
While describing Minister of Housing and Lands Denis Kellman as “Minister Do Little”, Sutherland said if the country was pushing food security, it should not be buying agricultural land for housing.
“And even if we don’t acquire that land, stop giving permission to build houses on fertile land,” he stressed.
However, Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite rose to his feet to inform Sutherland that the Government did not give permission to develop land, only the Town and Country Department did that. In continuing his contribution to the debate, Sutherland called for a policy which would outlaw arbitrary acquisition of land, especially in the rural areas.
The resolution was eventually passed.
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