RADHICA DE SILVA
Housing Minister Penelope Beckles says she is liaising with her colleagues to assist displaced residents of Bellview Village, Claxton Bay, some of whom are still sleeping in their cars.
Speaking via a WhatsApp message, Minister Beckles said:
” I am liaising with the Minister of Social Development who visited and also spoke with residents.”
One house valued at $1.7 million completely collapsed into the precipice last week Wednesday after sliding 200 metres downhill, while five other houses are cracking daily and could collapse at any time.
The quarrying at the Coco sandpit has been halted and the Estate Management Business Development Company is now preparing a report to respond to allegations that indiscriminate quarrying inside a buffer zone had triggered the collapse of the house.
The Ministry of Energy is also doing investigations.
Contacted yesterday, resident Nardera Ramsaran-Williams said not much had changed.
“We are still here waiting and hoping that we could get proper compensation. I cannot leave my house and go and rent because I have my animals, two dogs and birds. People don’t want to take us if we have dogs. That is why we are still sleeping in the car,” she said.
Ramsaran-Williams, 45, who lives with her husband Chester Williams and two children who are 15 and 20 years old, says it was traumatizing to see her home crumbling slowly before her eyes.
Meanwhile, another displaced resident, Marva Fritz, said she has been feeling ill since the tragedy occurred.
“Yesterday had a lot of people here. I suffer from heart complications, and I had to go and rest because I was not feeling well. Nothing was staying down,” she said.
“You could feel the movement when you stand near my house. This whole place is being undermined. The house in front near the road in which we are staying now has also started to crack,” Fritz said.
She called on the government to provide fair and just compensation for the loss of their property, as well as to find suitable accommodation for the displaced families.
Last Wednesday, Giles Garcia, his wife Anastasia Morris-Garcia and their two children were at home when the house started to cave. The family managed to flee without being hurt.
Following the mishap, the EMBD issued a statement saying it had been notified about the landslip which had “adversely affected” a few houses outside the boundary of its Coco Road quarry.
The EMBD said the quarry is one of the few licensed quarries that operates with full regulatory approvals. Minister of Agriculture Clarence Rambharat also told Guardian Media that the EMBD is a licensed quarry operator, and the matter falls under the Ministry of Energy.
“They, together with EMBD, are doing investigations but I have to await the updates from the EMBD before I know what can be done,” he said.