Su­gar work­ers placed in new homes to ride out storm

Jamaica Gleaner - - MAPPING MATTHEW - Jo­van John­son Staff Re­porter jo­van.john­son@glean­erjm.com

SOME SU­GAR work­ers in Golden Grove, St Thomas, say they ap­pre­ci­ate be­ing al­lowed into new, stur­dier hous­ing for the pas­sage of Hur­ri­cane Matthew, but they are con­cerned about the lack of wa­ter, elec­tric­ity and func­tion­ing sewage sys­tem.

The Gov­ern­ment, which has per­mit­ted the move, may also face an­other worry, as some of the res­i­dents have re­port­edly de­clared that they will not move out of the houses af­ter the hur­ri­cane passes.

“I am happy to be here, but we don’t have any wa­ter nor nuh light,” Joan Bright* told The Gleaner as she walked to her house at the Stokes Hall devel­op­ment site that is to ac­com­mo­date more than 200 peo­ple.

Millicent Brown*, mean­while, com­plained that she spent a lot of money to move her be­long­ings from the old su­gar bar­racks to the new units.

“A whole heap a money wi spend fi move come over yah. A Fri­day night dem gi wi di key seh wi fi move just fi hur­ri­cane, but some peo­ple a seh dem nah move back,” she said.

MAYOR IN THE DARK

Michael McLeod, act­ing mayor of Mo­rant Bay, said he was not cer­tain of the ar­range­ments, es­pe­cially re­gard­ing the pro­vi­sion of wa­ter.

“I am not sure what is go­ing on re­gard­ing the sit­u­a­tion. I spoke with the min­istry about it yes­ter­day (Satur­day),” he said.

The Gleaner ob­tained a copy of a con­tract dated Septem­ber 30, 2016 that res­i­dents had to sign, ac­knowl­edg­ing they were be­ing al­lowed into the houses be­cause of the hur­ri­cane threat.

“I futher ac­knowl­edge that Hous­ing Unit Lot No. ____ is not fully com­pleted and ready for han­dover and that there are still out­stand­ing works to be un­der­taken. How­ever, for my/our safety I/we agree to take tem­po­rary pos­ses­sion of the said Hous­ing Unit at Lot,” the con­tract states.

The con­tract also in­cludes a clause that res­i­dents had to agree “to va­cate and de­liver up my/our tem­po­rary pos­ses­sion of the Hous­ing Unit Lot No. ____ to the Gov­ern­ment of Ja­maica af­ter Hur­ri­cane Matthew passes”.

Regi­nald Bud­han, act­ing per­ma­nent sec­re­tary in the agri­cul­ture min­istry, said the per­mis­sion was never meant for the work­ers to live but to “ply” be­tween the new houses and where they cur­rently live.

He said the keys were is­sued over re­ports of van­dal­ism and to help res­i­dents liv­ing in un­safe struc­tures.

“We ex­pect them to stay where they are and go there (new houses) to ride out the storm. We ac­tu­ally at­tempted to rent six por­ta­ble toi­lets, but we didn’t get them be­cause the own­ers felt they were go­ing to be blown away.”

He could not say when the houses would be for­mally handed over, but said res­i­dents who stayed af­ter the hur­ri­cane’s pas­sage would have to com­plete the elec­tri­fi­ca­tion and wa­ter­con­nec­tion pro­cesses.

The houses were built through the Euro­pean Union-funded Su­gar Trans­for­ma­tion Pro­gramme in the agri­cul­ture min­istry.

They are to re­place di­lap­i­dated bar­rack struc­tures in the Golden Grove Su­gar Es­tate re­gion.

*Name changed on re­quest.

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