Minister of Housing Denis Kellman has responded to claims made by a 33-year-old St Andrew resident, whose home was damaged by Tropical Storm Tomas nearly seven years ago.
In an interview with Barbados TODAY Tuesday, Shorey Village resident Teresa Walkes bitterly complained that she had received very little assistance from the Rural Development Commission after the house that she had called home from the time she was 18 years old was destroyed during the storm’s passage in October, 2010.
In the aftermath of the storm, Walkes and her two sons were placed in a one bedroom house in Babylon Road, St Andrew reportedly given the assurance that their stay would be temporary since the RDC would rebuild their home.
However, Walkes said nearly seven years later the promise had not been fulfilled and she continued to live in the cramped conditions with her two sons.
In response, Kellman said Wednesday that while there was some justification for Walkes to be given a bigger home, there were other storm victims who had not benefited from any assistance whatsoever since Tomas struck in 2010.
He also suggested that it was for Walkes’ to follow up on her request for assistance from the state-run agency while explaining that in addition to providing the one-bedroom house, the RDC had paid the initial rental cost of the land on which the dwelling was built.
Kellman also said that an estimate for the repairs was made by the RDC while acknowledging that he had promised the householder that the necessary materials would be provided to her.
The minister said he had also forwarded the requisite information to the RDC for action to be taken in Walkes’ interest.
He therefore said he felt quite aggrieved over her suggestion that he had deliberately sought to avoid her.
“I am not the kind of minister who instructs his secretary to say I am not in office when I am there,” Kellman said, adding that he was “a bit surprised” that Walkes could have made a comment like that”.
“Anyone who knows me would know that I am not like that,” Kellman stressed without giving any indication of when or if Walkes’ current plight would be remedied.
The 33-year-old mother, who is currently working as a waitress said she was burdened with having to pay rent for the house provided by the RDC, taking care of her 16 and 18 year old sons, both of whom attend the Daryll Jordan Secondary School and are graduating this year, and making ends meet to pay for utilities, all on minimum wage.
She also told Barbados TODAY she had been forced to shelve plans to construct a new house because she simply did not have the money.
However, when contacted about what help would be given to Walkes, RDC Director Randolph Outram said the minister was dealing with the matter.