WHEN?NICOLE?TUDOR?of Chapman Village, St Andrew, delivered her baby in the back of an ambulance last Friday night, the reality that vehicles are unable to get to her home hit her with greater intensity than the labour pains she had been experiencing.
And Tudor is even more furious because it was her landlord who erected a barrier across the land which has effectively blocked any vehicles from getting to her home. In addition, she and her four children are forced to duck under the iron bar, which is padlocked.
As she held her four-day-old baby girl in her arms last Tuesday, the 35-year-old woman lamented that her worst fears had come true last Friday when she suddenly went into labour at home.
“From the time the landlord put up this barrier, I asked him how he expect vehicles to get to my house in case of an emergency. He let me know that he wrote numbers on the barrier for people to call and that someone would open the gate,” she recalled.
But Nicole said that when the ambulance personnel arrived they called the numbers repeatedly and no one responded.
“They had to walk through this long, dark, cart road to get to my house and the two of them had to almost lift me to get to the ambulance because I was in a lot of pain. I was trying to hold in the baby because the pains were strong but by the time the ambulance pull up outside the hospital I?couldn’t keep in the baby any longer and she just came out,” Tudor sadly explained.
While she was happy that the baby was healthy, she said the situation now had her extremely worried.
“I?feel like a prisoner in here,” she cried, as she accused the landlord of erecting the barrier to prevent her baby’s father, who drives a truck, from visiting her.
Tudor, who has lived at Chapman Village for the past eight years, said the erection of the barrier was the subject of the latest of several disputes between her and the landlord, which have resulted in his giving her notice to vacate the land.
She explained that she was living at the Lancaster House shelter in St James with two of her children for three years after her house was destroyed.
“I was getting up from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. walking all over Barbados looking for a piece of land to put a house on because the Rural Development Commission (RDC)?had told me that if I get a spot they would build a house for me.”
She said in 2003 a friend took her to St Andrew to a man named Elson Branch, who owned a huge parcel of land.
“I?asked him if he could rent a spot to me to put a house on and to farm. He asked me how much I wanted and I told him an acre and there and then he wrote up an agreement and told me that I?could rent the land for ten years with the possibility of renewing it for another ten years.
Tudor said she was elated, and the RDC proceeded to build her a two-bedroom house.
However, she claimed that the relationship between her and the landlord soon soured.
Tudor said she was also planting several fruit and vegetable crops on the land but she was forced to stop after the landlord told her not to plant anymore.
“I?came home and found all the crops destroyed and big hole had been dug in the area where I was planting. I?decided to build a chicken pen to raise chickens and he came and told me that I?cannot raise any chickens on the land. He was tormenting me about everything and I just gave up because I was under so much stress and I was working the land to get money to feed me and my children.”
Tudor said she also found the electrical wires to a utility pole cut and now none of the three street lights which lead to her house are working.
“I am being tormented in here. I?am afraid for me and my children because this is the only house out here and it is dark and lonely and surrounded by bushes. I?need land to put this house on so that I can get out of here,” she cried.
However, when contacted landlord Branch, who also lives at Chapman Village, charged that the RDC?had erected the house on his land without his permission and had refused to move it even though he and his lawyers had written to the agency on several occasions.
Branch said when Tudor approached him about renting the land the agreement was only for agricultural use.
“I had the land there and nothing was on it, so when she came to me and told me she wanted land to farm I?decided to rent her an acre out of the five acres for $300 a year.
“I was living in Christ Church at the time and one day I came out here and was shocked to see a house built on the land. I?could not have given her permission to put a house on the land because Town and Country Planning have forbidden me from building on it.”
However, Branch said he had a change of heart when he realized that Tudor had four young children.
“I gave her a new lease allowing her to live and work on the land, but she has never paid any rent.”
He said he started receiving reports about certain activities taking place at Tudor’s house, which he did not appreciate, and then he discovered that the house was one of the houses which could not be accounted for by the RDC.
But Branch said he was forced to erect the barrier about two months ago when several pieces of steel which he had stored on his land went missing.
“I?called the place where you sell steel and I?gave them the licence plates of the vehicles which were going to Nicole’s house and they told me that one of them had sold steel to them.”
Branch said he had given two neighbours keys to unlock the barrier and he had also written numbers on it for persons to call if they wished to enter.
“The position is that I?am awaiting a court injunction to have the house removed since she has refused to pay rent and the Rural [Development Commission] has refused to move the house from my land,” he said.
Branch said since he has been denied building a structure on the land he has plans to develop an eco-tourism venture on the land.