EPD NEVER HAD PLANS TO DEMOLISH SLAVE HUT

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Before the slave hut at Rock Hall was cleaned up.

There was never any plan by Government’s Environmental Protection Department (EPD) to demolish a historic structure at Rock Hall, St. Thomas, that has traditionally been considered a slave hut.

This is the word from Director of the EPD, Jeffrey Headley, who said the wood and wall structure was termite-infested; also the site was unsanitary and a risk to the public.

Mr. Headley made the comments today during a press conference at his Dalkeith Road, St. Michael office, in response to an article which appeared in the Friday, October 31, Weekend Nation edition. The newspaper reported that workmen from EPD “demolished the only slave hut which was still standing at the Rock Hall Freedom Village” and displayed a picture which the EPD Director said was not a true representation of what the building looked like on the day the roof and rotting wood were removed.

Mr. Headley pointed out that even the rafters were termite-infested, so therefore, the galvanise roof could have collapsed at anytime because there was nothing to support its weight. He added that the recent heavy rains and the deterioration of the building over a period of time would have resulted in the roof falling in.

After the slave hut at Rock Hall was cleaned up.

“We also had a problem with a vagrant who was living in the structure … There was much refuse in it, and as a result, it became a breeding ground for rodents… So, this action was taken to strictly protect the health of the residents in the immediate vicinity and to preserve the stone parts of the structure because we recognise that there are plans to restore it to its former state.

“It was not a demolition … but strictly a clean-up of the property; the contractor had just completed a part of his work, so he will shortly return to de-bush and clean the area,” he added.

Mr. Headley said his department had received complaints about the situation from a resident of the area and officers of the Environmental Health Department. He added that notice had eventually been served on the Ministry of Housing, the land owners, on May 30, 2008, but no stay of execution was requested.

“According to the law, we would give a stay of execution. That means that when that stay of execution has been exhausted it is the right of EPD to remove the structure. Sometimes we also give a second stay of execution after listening to some of the comments of the owners or agents.

So, the EPD does not go in, see a building, put a notice on it today and take it down tomorrow. There is a process to be followed,” he stressed.

Meanwhile, during the current financial year, about 50 derelict buildings have been removed by the EPD at a cost of nearly $230 000 and notice has already been served on another 76 structures. This list is to be published.

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