Newly elected Member of Parliament for St George North Toni Moore, in her maiden contribution to the Lower House today, urged Government to consider the safety and health of squatters when it seeks to compulsorily acquire land for housing solutions.
Speaking on a land acquisition resolution brought by Minister of Housing and Lands Dr William Duguid, Moore took note of the fact that “emphasis was being given to the risks associated with where people are currently located, and we need to mitigate against those risks”.
“For example, when we have people living on a dump site or near to a dump site, imagine the implications for national public safety if a resident dies or suffers from an acute medical condition as a result of living there,” the MP said.
“I urge us to reflect on the fact that every life matters, that we need to protect our people. If one person dies or is injured, that is a cost no one will want to carry. As we go around this country, evidence of the consequences of squatting is something none of us should be blind to, and we should pursue solutions that will counteract the risk a number of people and their families, including children, are up against.”
Moore also touched on the public safety concerns that came to light with people living on the Zone 1 water table.
“I also support the need to make residents more responsible for comfort in their space. In the realm of public safety, consideration should be given to where people are located in Zone 1 areas, and therefore Government must address these concerns when coming up with housing solutions,” she said.
“I speak specifically to the natural consequence that people will end up using pit toilets, because in a Zone 1 area, there are implications of water contamination and sewage issues that will prohibit people from having the basic amenities many of us are able to enjoy. We still have a situation where residents are using pit toilets and drawing water from a standpipe up a hill, so their safety and health is compromised.”
The new MP, who is also General Secretary of the Barbados Workers’ Union, also discussed a resolution passed to acquire land at Hamblin, which she said was first brought in 2002 but had not yet been acted on.
“This resolution was initially brought not only for housing, but it also permitted road improvement to address road safety concerns. I also have to venture into an examination as to why it takes as long as it does, when we acquire land, to make payments for it and achieve the objectives set out for it. These lands were acquired as far back as 2002, nearly two decades ago.”