With Government’s gaze fixed on addressing this country’s squatting problem at Rock Hall, St Philip, squatters in Bellevue, Waterford, say they are keen to hear what solutions the Mia Mottley administration has for them.
Last week Government announced plans to relocate squatters at Rock Hall, citing the proximity to the Grantley Adams International Airport as well as the fact that the land was once a landfill and could, therefore, pose some health risk.
However, residents at Bellevue told Barbados TODAY that they feel as if they are in the same boat as their counterparts in Rock Hall. They too have established a squatters’ community in that area, designated a critical water zone for the island.
Kiki Lomore, who has lived in the community for the last ten years, said that the squatters at Bellevue are on edge. She pointed out that like her, many of the residents are in this position because they simply had nowhere to turn and it would be unfair to revert them to that position. Lomore explained that she and her children were homeless when she decided to make a go of it at Bellevue.
“I went to the Government trying to find somewhere to live and they told me that they had starter homes, but they were rather expensive and every time they were giving me the runaround. I had to look for some place for my children. I am not going to stay on the streets with my children because at one point I was on the streets with my kids and that simply was not going to work,” she said, adding that many of the residents had since improved their lots in life and were willing to pay for the land.
She added, “The Government needs to help poor people, you can’t just help the people that up there [Rock Hall] because poor people need help too. People have already been asking about paying for the land but we still are getting the runaround about it all the time, but we are willing to pay for it.”
Bar owner Carlos Watson who has been living in the area for 11 years, also expressed similar concerns, making it clear that generations were raised in the community and persons were willing to have frank and fair discussions with Government about the next step.
“After seeing what is going on at Rock Hall people are a little anxious because we have people that have been living here for over 40 years. Many persons have been trying to help themselves and trying to get their own little piece of the rock. As long as Government isn’t trying to just force anything on us and willing to discuss the way forward, we are ready to sit down and come up with something that is best for everybody,” he said.
In addition to the fears of being relocated, residents told Barbados TODAY that they feel as though they have for a long time been the forgotten people
They complained that they are unable to get water connections to their homes and have to rely on fetching water from the standpipe. They also revealed that they are battling with a rodent infestation but have been unable to get help from the Ministry of Health to address the problem. Residents also accused the authorities of treating squatters as if they were sub-human.
“Our biggest issue is getting running water, we don’t have running water and we have to go the standpipe to bring back water all of the time. They say that down here is a watershed zone but yet the people just behind us have running water but yet we down here can’t get running water. We also have a lot of rats about the place and no matter how much times you call, the inspectors are not coming through to look at the situation. They forget us down in here, they don’t even study us down in here,” Lomore lamented.