The Drainage Department is responsible for cleaning drains. If they do not clean the drains, then there may be flood damage, which is a public concern. We are all liable for public concerns, and may have to pay additional taxes to repair any flood damage.
If I prevented the Drainage department from cleaning a drain, and rain fell then caused flooding downstream, then this is not a public concern, but a private matter. The damage resulted from my actions. Therefore, I should be liable for any flood damage, not the public.
The Town and Country Planning department is responsible for the orderly development of the built environment. When people build without permission, the Town and Country Planning department is supposed to enforce their regulations on behalf of the public.
When people squat on vacant land, then that is a public concern. If politicians prevent the Town and Country Planning department from enforcing their regulations, then it is no longer a public concern, but a private political matter. Those political parties should be liable for any costs to rectify the situation that they caused.
For decades, both BLP and DLP administrations have interfered with the normal public process and changed public concerns to private concerns that they should pay to rectify. However, every time that the established political parties have messed things up, they simply raised additional taxes to pay for their mistakes.
The issue with the Rock Hall squatters is simply the latest glaring example of public money being misused.
If the Town and Country Planning department was allowed to do its job, then we would not be forced to make political payments to squatters. Why can’t political parties make their own political payments?
We have been asked for our solution to the Rock Hall squatter problem. However, that is a private matter between the BLP, DLP and the squatters.
To address all squatting, we must acknowledge that persons may temporarily find themselves financially embarrassed at some time in their lives. If they cannot cope, then that is a public concern. We propose that the Government reserve approximately 30 acres of crown land and subdivide it into 1,500 sq-ft lots. On each lot, a hurricane resistant chattel house, not larger than 600 sq-ft, should be allowed.
This should provide approximately 600 houses, in which those in temporary unfortunate circumstances can reside while they recover. Residents are expected to recover within one year, during which time rent may be waived. To discourage people from using the houses as permanent shelters, rent should increase each year.
It is important that the Government make policies for all Barbadians, not just those whom they made reckless political promises during the last general election. Politicians should keep their political promises, but they should not raid our national treasury, or increase our tax burden, to do so.
Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer and President of Solutions Barbados. He can be reached at [email protected]