The overcrowding of government housing units is high on the government’s priority list as it seeks to expand the country’s housing stock.
Minister of Housing, Lands and Maintenance Dwight Sutherland declared that part of the plan to build more than 10,000 new houses, would allow people living in the densely-populated units to have their own home.
Earlier this week, tenants at St Matthias complained of severe sewage problems that have continuously been a bother since December last year.
However, a senior official at the National Housing Corporation (NHC) revealed that the large number of people, up to 12 in some units, is leading to serious problems with maintenance.
“This is housing stock that was built back in the 50s, some of them in the 60s, some of them in the 70s. We know when we travel the length and breadth of this country, one of the biggest needs is the need for housing and I can’t get vex with a family if they started out as a family of three and over the years…they are fruitful and multiply and we have some six or seven persons living in some of the housing units,” said Sutherland.
“I am not going to say that that is too much, but what I am going to say, is that government has a plan for the population density within the housing units by building low income housing. These are some of the areas that we will be targeting… and offering the opportunity for some of these tenants to have their own home,” the minister added.
Sutherland promised that a massive maintenance programme already in place across the country’s housing units would soon be intensified. But he added that the situation at St Matthias could be improved by transferring the housing project onto the south coast sewage system.
“Sewage is a major challenge. We started that project to address sewage issues in 10 housing areas and that accounted for 135 sewage systems. To date I am proud to report that the National Housing Corporation has not only addressed 130 of the 135 but we have gone past the 10 housing units that were categorised as being in need,” said Sutherland.
“It’s unfortunate that we can get reports of sewage challenges when we had on the scene of the issue a sewage truck pumping sewage from the respective area… but we have a plan and critical to addressing any sewage challenges in Barbados is a maintenance plan to address the issues.
“Here at St Matthias, we believe the problem can be addressed by connecting the sewer to the south coast sewage project and we are looking at that as a project. We can’t do it on our own, but we will be speaking with the Barbados Water Authority and the other agencies. Those challenges that we are hearing of are minor challenges. Once we connect to the south coast sewage project, we would see some of these minor issues addressed,” he added. (KS)