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‘Left behind’

MARIA BRADSHAW, [email protected]

‘Left behind’

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Residents of Chapman Lane and Emmerton in The City are still waiting on Government to relocate them.

They are the ones who were left behind in 2008 when several of their neighbours packed up and moved into newly constructed houses provided by the Government at Barbarees Hill, St Michael, in the midst of a health crisis brought on by the Bridgetown Sewage Treatment Plant.

While close to 200 households were supposed to have been relocated, only about 60 families got keys to houses at Barbarees Hill.

Some who were left behind told the Sunday Sun recently that houses were given to people “from outside” instead of them and they believe politics was involved.

“Remember The City was BLP [Barbados Labour Party] stronghold,” one upset resident related. Billie Miller was our representative for many years, and it was a known fact that Chapman Lane and Emmerton were committed Bees. After the Democratic Labour Party got in, they kept promising to move all the people from Emmerton but they pick and choose who they wanted to put in the houses at Barbarees Hill and give way the rest to people from ‘outside’, I believe, to boost their votes in that constituency,” the long-standing resident charged.

With the recent problems at the South Coast Sewage Treatment Plant, some residents at Chapman Lane and Emmerton said they were being afflicted too because sewage was now being channelled from Christ Church to Bridgetown.

Sixty-year-old Brenda Hinkson, who suffers with multiple ailments, said over the years she and her family had been severely affected by the overbearing stench from the sewage plant which is right opposite her home.

Back in 2008 when the relocation exercise was under way, Hinkson said she waited anxiously for the authorities to tell her she could pack up and leave, but that never happened.

“I remember people from National Housing come out here and I sign over to move. But when that time come they told me that Urban [Urban Development Commission] was responsible for this side of the road.

“People from Urban come out here and said they would repair my house. Urban call me in, make me sign contract, took pictures of my house and up to now they ain’t come and do nothing to the house and it in a very bad condition.

“The house so bad that I had to take up the first set of marley that I had on the floor and put it on top of the roof to stop water from coming in. I am 60 and I got arthritis and I does suffer with sugar and pressure. I taking nine tablets a day and I cannot work. The smell affecting me bad, bad, bad.”

Her neighbour Ulric King said he also had the same experience with the UDC.

“They come and take pictures of my house and say they gine build toilet and bath for me and up to now they ain’t do nothing and we still using a toilet outside.

However King, 74, who wears a colostomy bag, said he was so ill that he could not get outside to use the toilet pit.

“I was sick bad for years. I got bladder problems and I can’t go out there,” he cried. “When the rain fall, the water does come in this house and got in here like a swamp.”

In relation to the sewage plant, King said the stench “which started kicking back up” was more than he could bear.

“We got it real bad down here,” he cried.

Another resident who has lived at Chapman Lane for 43 years, but who preferred not to be named, charged that the relocation of residents and the compensation which they were supposed to receive from the Barbados Water Authority for their lives being disrupted by the plant were long overdue.

Pointing out that they suffered ailments such as shortness of breath, skin rash, and severe vomiting, he said several residents in the area had passed away over the years and there was suspicion that the plant had something to do with their deaths.

“There had times when I go into my house and I had to come back out and head for town and look for drinks – the smell was that bad,” he related. “People dead from ’bout here with all complications and they never knew from what, but we suspect it was the sewage.

“When the Canadians build this plant in 1978 they warned people about this and they said that the workers should only spend five years working in there because of the chemicals”, he revealed.

In relation to why so many people were not relocated, the man said they were told by Government officials that money had run out and they did not have enough houses.

“That is what they said but the outside people still come and get houses at Barbarees Hill,” he lamented.

The residents who have brought a class action lawsuit against the BWA said they are disappointed that after ten years the matter has not been settled even though the BWA agreed to a compensation package.

They revealed that each of the 169 residents involved in the lawsuit were expected to be paid between $10 000 and $15 000 for their pain and suffering. (MB)