It has become an all-too familiar story for residents of White Hill, St Andrew.
The seemingly endless extensive land slippage, water shortages and an impassable main road that was condemned by the authorities following heavy rains in November 2014 have tested the patience of those who live in the rural community.
Having vented their frustrations to Minister of Housing and Lands Denis Kellman and Minister of Transports and Works Michael Lashley via the media, and demanding immediate assistance which they have yet to receive, the residents are now planning a protest march on Thursday, three years and one day after the main road collapsed.
“We need to protest because we have had enough. Since Government claimed that they tried to fix the road nobody even give us a footpath to walk on. We are asking for a town hall [meeting] to discuss our problems and not even that we can get, so we have to protest,” Carlitha Andrews, a spokesman for the residents told Barbados TODAY.
“We are putting it out there so that the public can see that our conditions are still the same or . . . worse, and nothing has been done . So it’s like nobody cares and this is the reason why we are protesting.”
Andrews said the placard-bearing residents will assemble at the point where the impassable road fell apart three years ago, and proceed to march through the entire district.
“Right now I can’t give you a head count as to how many residents will be coming out but we are marching up here. Nobody came to our assistance; the minister doesn’t speak to us. Whatever we learn about White Hill is in the media and we have had enough. Wednesday would make it three years that we have been living like this. It is very disturbing so that’s why we decide to take this stand,” the community spokeswoman said.
“We want respect. That is the first thing. We were asking for almost three years to get a meeting with the ministers and haven’t up to this day. I can speak for the residents and it is total disrespect. We need a footpath put in place . . . give us immediate action. We deserve it after three years.”
Member of Parliament for St Andrew George Payne said he planned to join his constituents in the march.
The Opposition Barbados Labour Party legislator said the protest was an act of frustration by residents who simply had enough.
“The residents have asked me to meet with them on Thursday morning with respect to their concerns and the fact that over three years have passed and nothing has been done. So the residents and I are meeting to examine the situation and look at the next move because nothing has come to Parliament to assist the people of White Hill,” Payne told Barbados TODAY.
The Ministry of Housing and Lands announced in a statement earlier this month that the relocation of 22 houses to Farmers, St Thomas, which began in 1999, would resume in earnest.
According to the ministry, after observing the extent of the land slippage and its negative impact on the houses, Government officials, including Chief Town Planner Mark Cummins, had strongly discouraged any resettlement in the area. It also warned that tough enforcement measures will be imposed to guard against this.
Government is proposing to compulsorily acquire the land from White Hill residents once the construction of the new houses is completed at Farmers and is cautioning that those who resist this could be penalized.