A home slipping away
WHEN?PHYLLIS?CUMBERBATCH moved back into her home at Vaughn Road No 1, St Joseph, she knew she was takinga huge risk.
But with nowhere else to go, she had no other choice but to go back home, while hoping and praying that the severe land slippage in the area had subsided.
But her prayers have not been answered – the land beneath her house continues to slip so badly that huge cracks are now visible in the foundation and the house is coming apart at the seams.
Cumberbatch is afraid that her house will soon end up in the gully that is presently behind it.
“The well in the backyard is sinking and the ground is pulling away,”
she cried, as she also pointed to a huge crack in the foundation of the area, which was once a shop, but which she was forced to close.
The long stretch of road started to collapse back in 2008, making it impassable to vehicular traffic and difficult for pedestrians to traverse.
Cumberbatch, who was one of about five residents affected by the slippage, moved out and sought refuge at a friend. However, she said she could no longer stay there because that house was also damaged by Tropical Storm Tomas last year, so she returned home in May.
She pointed out that after moving back, workmen from the Ministry of Transport and Works installed two sets of steps at each end of the road, but those steps have also pulled away from the land and are cracking.
“I have a slipped disc and it is hard for me to climb those steps and now I don’t feel safe because the steps are cracking too,” she said.
She said while her 12-year-old son and two-year-old daughter were still living with her at the house, her 15-year-old daughter was so afraid that she was living at her grandmother.
Another resident, Mocky Holder, lamented that Government was not doing anything to solve the road problem. “Because this road is impassable, other people who live out here have to take the long road to get out, and a lot of them are elderly people. It is really hard on them and the road does not have any street lights, so at night it is pitch black,” he said.
“The people from the Ministry of Transport and Works come and put in these temporary steps. They rush through the job and never put in any steel so the steps are pulling away. This is dangerous; anybody can fall between that crack in the step and break their foot,” he said.
He added that since the road collapsed he had not seen a Government minister, neither or parliamentary representative for the parish, Dale Marshall.
“I have never seen any of them out here. I?think the area is being neglected. There are 25 houses out here and it is difficult for anyone to get to us in case there is an emergency. If the other road start to sink, I?wonder what will happen to the people out here. We need some serious assistance in this area. We desperately need help,” Holder cried.
He expressed the belief that a tunnel, which was running underneath the road, was probably blocked and that was why the water was being trapped and undermining the integrity of the road.
When contacted, constituency representative Dale Marshall, a member of the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP), said St Joseph was being neglected by the Government.
“I am familiar with the situation in Vaughn Road. I?have been there on several occasions and I?know about the challenges. It is one of the contiguous districts, including Suriname and Chimborazo, which are all suffering severe slippage.”
Marshall pointed out that the BLP had committed to a huge $35 million project in the Scotland District and had passed legislation to deal with such. “All the work has been thrown out by this Government. It is as if it never happened,” he said.
He added that there was a relocation grant that Government could use to relocate persons in the affected areas.
Pointing to the St Joseph Parish Church, which was forced to close its doors due to severe cracks in the walls, and the collapse of the road at Dark Hole, in St Joseph, Marshall said it seemed as if the residents of St Joseph would have to wait until the BLP returned to office to deal with the issues.
When contacted, Phillip Tudor, Senior Technical Officer at the Ministry of Transport and Works, said the steps at Vaughn Road were supposed to be temporary and they were supposed to be wooden steps.
He explained that an in-depth analysis of the road would be conducted but this would have to be done during the dry season. However, he pointed out that the land slippage in the area was severe.