An Opposition Member of Parliament has suggested that Government purchase some of the unsold houses in the Villages at Coverley for Barbadians in need of accommodation.
Parliamentary representative for St Michael East Trevor Prescod offered that as a possible housing solution Tuesday, while speaking in the House of Assembly on a resolution to acquire the site of the old District ‘E’ Police Station in Station Hill, St Peter and vest it in the National Housing Corporation for housing development.
The outspoken parliamentarian argued that successive governments have been unable to provide enough housing to meet the demand, even though there were parcels of unused land and houses in the country.
He spoke specifically about the Coverley, Christ Church project. Prescod noted that while a significant number of houses had been completed, it was unclear what the developer was doing with them as many remained unoccupied.
“Are we going to allow this contractor or this investor to keep those houses up there for 20 years while we have poor people around Barbados in need of housing? You people classify my constituents as squatters who save up a little money to buy plywood to build a little house and get a bed and other pieces of furniture to enjoy life. Do you believe you should hurt these people?” he questioned.
Prescod argued that in the same way Barbados has joined with other Caribbean countries to seek reparations from former colonial masters, it should also be asking “local agents of our colonial masters” for compensation as well.
“We are not going to rob the developer of anything. This Government can pay him out so that I can have some of my constituents living in Coverley. Good conditions are up there and, like any one of us, my constituents should be allowed to enjoy the conditions.
“I want these people to be able to drive a small car into a garage, in a house made of stone. People who sweat over the years deserve better. Some of them ended up with a bent back at 35 years old working on . . . the estate in the Belle; some worked on the estate in Waterford. That explains why I am calling for reparations. Severe damage has been done to these people. It is nothing about radicalism, it is nothing about socialism. It is humanly correct. It is realism,” he argued.
Calling on authorities to stop “harassing” people who authorities consider “squatters” in the Belle, the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) parliamentarian added: “If you have a problem with the people who live in the Belle, give them accommodation in Coverley.”
During his contribution to the debate, Prescod took issue with the derogatory terms that have been used to describe some of his constituents, including those living in the Belle.
He said words like “squatters” and “vagrants” and even “imbeciles” – which he claimed he had seen written on files in the Immigration Department to refer to some members of society – suggested that those individuals were seen as sub-human and not worthy of proper accommodation.
Meantime, Prescod offered Government another land-related suggestion. He said lands in St John belonging to collapsed insurance company CLICO should be parceled out to policyholders who were still awaiting compensation.