Government’s decision to assist squatters at Rock Hall, St. Phillip instead of punishing them for their delinquency has drawn varying reactions from Barbadians.
Barbados TODAY spoke with numerous citizens who have been closely monitoring Government’s reaction to the most recent complaints.
Erline White has labeled the squatters as “thieves” who have stolen and want to claim land they have not bought, rented or paid taxes for.
“From the beginning they knew the land they are on is not their land, so I feel they should take whatever is offered to them and use it the best way they can,” White told Barbados TODAY in response to a proposal to grant each household earning less than $15 000 annually a $25 000 grant to assist in their relocation.
“If the Prime Minister decided she is going to assist them, I think that is very good of her. I think they should take whatever assistance they can get and realize the land they are on is not their land.
For Sarah Richards, the solution is simply to move the squatters who should be held responsible for their own circumstances.
“Governments in other countries would say they have given you enough time to move. So I feel as though the Government should move in with some bulldozers and move everybody.
“If they are looking for help otherwise, I think honestly, Government could put them in some of the unoccupied housing units and that would be enough for me. But in terms of giving them $25 000, that is a no for me,” she suggested.
For Rudy Leacock, a returning national, it is Government’s duty to facilitate alternative provisions for the squatters.
“If it is a Government-owned property, then the Government of all people should be able to make some kind of provision for these squatters, less they get pushed away and it gets out of hand and present other problems. I think the Government should candidly sit down and discuss and organise a plan to have these squatters assisted.
“We need to come up with a plan on how they can help those who are helpless and by the same token try to prevent them from doing other things. I think here in Barbados we have a lot of people who are begging on the street and that is an eyesore,” he observed.
Another woman, who only wanted to be identified as “Ann” was extremely upset with successive Governments for allowing the situation to get out of hand.
“It’s not something that was set up overnight. The authorities should have been looking at this before it reached the stage where it is now. Why wait until the horse has bolted to do all of this?” she asked.
“I would be annoyed if illegal persons were given that amount of money and I am here struggling legally and I cannot get that magnitude of help for my own land taxes and so on.”
Sharon Forde was considerably more sympathetic, urging Government to help.
“There are single mothers there and children are involved,” she appealed.
Suggesting the squatters could be charged income tax for their spots, she said: “They have families to support, people have lost their jobs and they still have to live.”
“There’s a lot of Government land with a lot of bush. Clear it and let them put the houses there, because you can’t put them on the streets,” Forde added.