Director of the Urban Development Commission (UDC) Derek Alleyne today accused Barbados Labour Party St Michael West candidate Reverend Joseph Atherley of seeking to gain political mileage from a woman plunging into a 25-foot well in that constituency.
Yesterday, Atherley called into the Voice Of Barbados 92.9 radio station where he highlighted an incident in which Alicia Stowe fell into the well at her 2nd Avenue, Thomas Gap, President Kennedy Drive, St Michael home. Atherley blamed the UDC for constructing a sub-standard well into which Stowe had fallen.
But at a media briefing held at his Bridge Street, St Michael headquarters today, Alleyne produced official UDC documents indicating that the well had been built in 2005 when Atherley was the parliamentary representative for the area and was the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs. Alleyne said that since 2008 the UDC had maintained very high standards when it came to awarding contractual work to artisans. Alleyne said he was particularly peeved that Atherley had sought to bring the professionalism and reputation of those working at the UDC and who had oversight for all projects under the remit of the commission into disrepute.
“The real folly of this thing is that that well was constructed in 2005 . . . . When we recycle politicians they must remember that they once sat in the same seat . . . . Once you were a Member of Parliament or a minister or a parliamentary secretary, you were responsible for making decisions,” he said.
The UDC Director explained that since he took over at the statutory corporation the number of contractors who did work for the agency had been reduced from about 180 to 20. He noted that prior to 2008 the UDC had given work to journalists, teachers, police officers and others who had no clue about construction but yet had received contracts for building works from the then Government.
Alleyne revealed that $2,983 had been paid to the individual who built the well in 2005 even before it had been inspected and completed.
Compliance officer with the UDC, Cyprian Yearwood, outlined the strict building standards employed by the commission, including those with respect to the construction of wells. He said there were written stipulations for works and UDC’s project personnel also met with contractors. He explained that contractors were required to submit photographs of the various stages of work they constructed on behalf of the commission. He also noted that the individual employed to build the well at the Cadogan home did not meet the existing UDC standards. Yearwood also revealed that the contractor responsible for constructing the well at Thomas Gap was no longer on their books.
But when Barbados TODAY visited the Cadogan residence, homeowner June Cadogan disputed the official documentation at UDC and stated that the well had been built in 2011. She produced no documentation to substantiate this. Today workers contracted by UDC were at the residence doing remedial work to the well which had no ledge or lip previously in place. Cadogan said Stowe, who was not present, had complained of pain to her neck and feet after falling into the well.
Stowe’s boyfriend, Corey Cadogan, who was present yesterday morning when the incident occurred, said he was grateful the 29-year-old mother of three was alive after the incident. He explained that she had exited the house into the yard to wash and on passing over the well it collapsed and she disappeared inside.
“She had just put down the baby inside and I can only imagine if she had fallen into the well with him. He is only six months,” he said.
During today’s media briefing Alleyne also chastised Atherley for propagating that persons in UDC houses were entitled to them after being residents for ten or more years.
Instead, Alleyne explained, the UDC often encouraged persons to buy the houses whenever they became financially able to do so. He added that timber houses depreciated in value over time.
“But to give the view that they have a right to a house [for free] after living in it for ten years is wrong,” Alleyne said.