Unscrupulous and unfair!
That is how Member of Parliament for St Thomas Cynthia Forde described some plantation landowners, who she claimed have been duping Barbadians under the Tenantries Freehold Purchase Act which allows tenants to buy the land at ten cents per square foot
Speaking on Friday, Forde, who is the Minister of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs, told the House of Assembly that some of her constituents have been experiencing challenges with the ten cents per square foot price for the tenantry land they occupy.
“I have received some letters from people who are being asked to pay $10 per square foot for land that is plantation land that they living on. I have filled out the forms and sent them to the Ministry of Housing for them,” Forde said during debate on a resolution to vest a parcel of land at Chancery Lane, Christ Church in the state-owned National Housing Corporation (NHC).
The Minister contends that those tenants are entitled to the 3,000 square feet or whatever it is at ten cents per square foot.
Stating that her people do not always know their rights, the St Thomas MP noted that issues such as this have to be properly explained.
“You don’t have to give no owner of any plantation no $10 per square foot. You are entitled to ten cents per square foot. That is the law,” she insisted.
She said that it hurts her heart at the way it is being done.
“I can take you Mr Speaker, Sir, to Hampon St Thomas, going into Vaucluse and show you a family that had a large tract of land that was taken away from that poor woman. She went to the office the morning and signed away her life. And now she and her children are squatting on a little hill that Town Planning in our time refused to give permission. You know what, the ink had already dried on the paper,” Forde said.
The St Thomas MP told Parliament that a “massive” road and “some . . . mansions” have since been built in the area that includes her land.
Forde also pointed to Forty Acres Tenantry where “a woman that had two other spots” and who had qualified for the ten cents per square foot land purchase.
“And the owner of the land came and said to her quietly in the office the morning as well . . . she said ‘how much do I owe you for these spots of land?’ She was told it was going to be so expensive ‘you can’t pay me’. Ordinary woman is understanding. She was told ‘give me back those two and take that one you have for free. Mr Speaker, she only had to pay $500 for each spot,15,000 square feet. That woman has children and grand children; and is now applying for one of the housing spots at the new Forty Acre that probably would go at eight or $10 per square foot,” said the Cabinet Minister.
Forde also urged her colleague, Minister of Housing and Lands George Payne to take advantage of the massive pieces of lands owned by the Anglican Church for housing.
She suggested that the Government enter into a private-public partnership with the church to provide housing solutions for Barbadians.