Tenants of the National Housing Corporation (NHC) in Haynesville, St James say they fear it is only a matter of time before a massive electrical fire destroys their homes and their lives.
The residents complain that the signs are clear that the 40-year-old electrical system is no longer reliable and poses a threat to the lives of householders.
Two weeks ago, fire destroyed one of three bedrooms in an NHC unit in Haynesville, which one of the occupants, 43-year-old Ryan Odle, blamed on an electrical fault.
It was the latest blaze which tenants blame on a faulty electrical system which they said keeps showing signs that danger is not far away.
“My little nephew was in the kitchen using a bare toaster and it [power breaker] trip out. If you go and put on the bathroom light, you get shocked. If you barely use the washing machine and nothing else ain’t using in the house . . . the current just trip out,” a 31-year-old resident, who asked to be referred to only as Shane, said, adding there were times he would hear “placks, placks” only to realize a breaker had tripped.
“If the National Housing [Corporation] doesn’t do anything about these electrical [problems] more houses will definitely burn very soon,” he warned.
The Opposition Barbados Labour Party candidate for the area Sandra Husbands today presented the NHC with a petition bearing close to 200 signatures of concerned tenants demanding that the state agency makes rewiring of the Haynesville units a priority.
“The Haynesville housing estate is over 40 years of age and the electrical wiring within the units has reached a stage of deterioration where it is now a danger to the residents,” Husbands said.
“Over the past two years we have had four fires in the area and people would have lost their property, and residents throughout the estate complained that, for example, the breaker constantly trips, they constantly have to be changing their light bulbs because the electrical wiring is old and needs replacing,” she reported,
The BLP candidate said the NHC has been advising its tenants that it did not have the funds to rewire the units or for simple repairs such as replacing doors or toilets.
However, Husbands said Government needed to take another look at its priorities and place the tenants at the top of the list.
“My contention is that Government prioritizes what it thinks is important. It says it has no money, but it was able to host CARIFESTA. It said it has no money, but they were able to do the 50th anniversary celebrations, they were able to do the David Thompson Football Classic, now that people have been complaining they were able to start a programme to repair roads.
“I am saying the hundreds of people who live in this area need relief from the stress. Many people talk about the fact that at night when the electricity usage is higher, whenever they hear a noise, they have to get up and run and investigate to make sure that their unit is not on fire,” Husbands said.
David Rogers was not at home when reporters visited the area this afternoon, but his brother Curtis Rogers explained the challenges facing his sibling.
“My brother lives in this community and every time I visit and he has to wash, it is a situation where he has to turn off everything
. . . the fridge, the TV, everything, just to wash. When the TV and fridge are on at the same time and he, say, plugs in a cellphone, the lights start to flicker and these are things that happen on the blocks as you go through the community,” Rogers said.
Another tenant, Akera Jones, expressed fears that while her unit has been unscathed so far, it was only a matter of time before fire breaks out there.
“It really needs rewiring. Don’t care who you ask, don’t care who you call, it makes no sense . . . no help comes. I guess you have to pay your own money to get things sorted out in this area,” Jones said, adding that she simply could not afford to pay for repairs to the electrical system.