Several residents in the massive illegal housing settlement in Rock Hall, St Philip are elated they are about to be moved.
And though they are happy to welcome their new neighbours, the current residents of Parish Land where the first set of squatters is to be relocated, hope there is no violence or “trouble” accompanying the move.
Other residents in the community situated close to Dodds Prison are also disappointed that they stand to lose significant planting area for crops to make room for the relocation.
Following a ground-breaking ceremony on Tuesday morning to signal the official construction of a roadway and clearing of land in Parish Land, Barbados TODAY spoke with some of the residents in the area who said they looked forward to welcoming their new neighbours.
One resident who declined to be identified, said she has been living in Parish Land for over 30 years and she was simply hoping that the new neighbours would be peaceful.
“This district is a very peaceful district. Nobody in Barbados can say they have ever heard anything bad about Parish Land in St Philip because we are a together people,” she said, adding that she welcomed the paved road in the area.
However, even more concerning for one family was that they would be required to give up the family’s garden, which illegally sits on a portion of the land that is to be incorporated into the new housing solution.
“They are getting the option to come here and we have to give up our garden that we have for more than 20 years,” she said.
“If I have to give up the garden I should be able to get some other place that I could continue to plant my produce. The people in charge just called and gave us notice to don’t plant anything else,” she said.
“I am being honest, the land we are planting on is a big part, but we should be left with at least a little piece,” she added. Among the vegetables and fruits in the garden now are sweet peppers, cabbage, chives, cassava, okras and parsley along with banana trees, a mango tree, papayas and a coconut tree.
She said with no known place to relocate her plants she and her husband were now worried they would not be able to save many of them.
“We got to look for space for our dogs,” said the lady, who has no measurable yard space.
Another resident who gave her name only as Roslyn, told Barbados TODAY she welcomed the new residents.
“I am hoping the new tenants are good and not bad behaving and have police running ‘bout here. Right now nuh police got to run ‘bout here,” she said.
Another female resident said the same way Government was providing land for the squatters they should look at offering “affordable” land for people in St Philip seeking to own a piece of the rock.
“I think we should be offered land spots. Everybody out here would like piece of land to live on too and you bringing in strangers,” she said.
“I am not vexed but I just feel that you have good people in this area that want somewhere to live or looking to buy land, they should be offered first,” she said.
Minister of Housing, Lands and Maintenance Dr William Duguid did indicate earlier that he had several major plans to provide a range of housing solutions for middle and lower middle-income earners.
Over at Rock Hall, St Philip where there are over 300 houses, more than 250 of whom are squatting on what used to be a landfill, some residents said they were eagerly looking forward to being relocated.
Some of the tenants said they were only learning of the start of work on the Parish Land location from Barbados TODAY, but said they were happy the relocation was closer.
“I feel comfortable that we are relocating to a place that we will be able to call our own. I feel happy about it and I can’t wait to move . . . we will have a land to call our own and I will feel more comfortable we are not on the dump anymore,” said one woman.
Leroy said he was happy the relocation was near, pointing out that the mud in the current location was a menace.
“The mud is really frustrating. Going somewhere else is better for us. We really appreciate what the Government is doing for us. It is better for us in the long run,” he said.
He said residents in Parish Land had no need to worry about violence.
“From the time I was here for the past ten years it was pretty okay. I never encountered any crime. You have a little quarrel here and there but the people here are nice. We want to move. I want to move really bad because I will have better facilities – water and light installed than you have to be begging somebody for water,” said Leroy.
Meanwhile, Reena Applewhaite said the past several months have been very stressful for her with high levels of uncertainty. She explained that with back-to-school just around the corner she was not sure if she would need to move her children to a new school.
“I am glad to move but because you don’t know when and you are just waiting. The patio is falling and I can’t fix it because you don’t know when. We are not supposed to do anything. So I am feeling kind of overwhelmed and stressed. I just want to move and done,” said the resident who has been living in Rock Hall for the past five years.
The squatters said they have not yet been informed of the process for moving including exactly who would be first to do so. [email protected]