Displaced Hill Foot residents picket Housing Ministry and Lands and Survey Commission over broken housing promises

Displaced Hill Foot residents picket Housing Ministry and Lands and Survey Commission over broken housing promises

-by Svetlana Mashall

More than a month after their homes were bulldozed by a private developer, while the Police kept guard, residents of Hill Foot on the Soesdyke/Linden Highway continue to face harsh living conditions, with many of them being forced to live in makeshift huts and tents.

Close to 50 of the displaced residents came to the city today, hoping to meet with the Minister of Housing and the Head of the Lands and Surveys Commission.

They launched a picketing exercise this morning to bring attention to their plight.

One resident, Daniel Primo, told News Source that notwithstanding a commitment by the Government to fast track the housing process for them, it has been weeks, with no new information from the authorities.

At the Ministry of Housing, Minister of Housing Collin Croal met with the residents briefly, but they left that meeting dissatisfied.

“It was said to we that some people will be allocated with turn key house, some of the persons are right here that signed up for the turn key house. At housing this morning, the housing minister said, he only have eight persons that applied for the turn key house, when we check there is no body that come down from Hill Foot on that paper that he have for the turn key home. So, we do not know where he find the eight persons from” Primo said.

Another displaced resident of Hill Foot, Anewell Park, said his entire family is now living in a “plastic house”.

“Me house get push down, not my house alone, more house get push down, and right now, how I living in this situation now, I am not too please how I am living in a plastic tarpaulin, I deh pun the ground sleeping…Right now, we drinking water from the creek, when you go and bathe in the water, the water itching your skin,” Park said.

Pointing to his grandson, Park said the toddler is now experiencing rashes on his skin as a result of the water, and the sand.

Mother of four, Geeta Alam, said her children are also experiencing the rashes on their skin due to their poor living conditions.

“My children, they are sleeping in a lil house, whereby we call it a house, but we are not comfortable because of how we are. We are not comfortable, we are uncomfortable, and they are not safe, and I am a single parent, and we are not safe because we are not secured anymore. All of us living in tents, we are in tents, and we need someone to help us out, we don’t need promises anymore,” Alam said.

The young mother spoke about police harassment.

According to her, the police would constantly arrest them and place them on station bail with little information on the reason for their arrest.

Anna Smith, another young mother, told News Source that her 5-year-old daughter, has been sick and traumatized by the horrifying events that unfolded in Hill Foot.

“Well since then, we had to do a camp, and I have a five-year-old and she getting sick steady as a result of the heat and the cold because the tent that we do up, the plastic holding the heat, and the child and the child keep asking question, mommy the man coming and bulldoze down we house; even if it’s a vehicle passing, she asking, mommy is the police coming. Look last night, the police patrolling at the back, the children can’t sleep without asking questions,” Smith explained.

Smith said she too has been a victim of police harassment.

Rights activist and Former Minister of Government, Simona Broomes, who stood in solidarity with the residents today, told News Source that Government should do more to assist the residents.

“I think it is unfair. It is sad. There is no water, itch coming out on the children skin, they getting sick, they living in plastic, they living in, sheds, and shacks. I was asking persons to get water, drinking water is a big thing, it is like diamond in Hill Foot, and with this hot son, I have seen children on that sad without shoes. I think it is shameful enough but at the same time, I don’t think it is a political matter, this is governance matter, and the government got to govern for them because they are Guyanese people,” Broomes said.

After hours of waiting, the residents met with the Commissioner of Lands, who again promised to sort out the applications that are before him.

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