Government is seeking to relocate some residents of King Street, St. Simons, St. Andrew, in an effort to protect them from land slippage in the area.
Minister of Home Affairs, Information and Public Affairs, Wilfred Abrahams, made it clear that the relocation of some affected residents was inevitable, and action would be taken from as early as next week to ensure their safety.
He made these remarks following a tour of the affected area and homes last evening.
He was accompanied by Minister of Transport, Works and Water Resources, Ian Gooding-Edghill; Minister of Housing, Lands and Maintenance, Dr. William Duguid; Minister in the Ministry of Transport, Works and Water Resources, Charles Griffith; and Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Education and member of the St. Andrew District Emergency Organisation, Senator Dr. Romel Springer, and other officials.
The touring party visited the homes of elderly residents, Henderson Lowe and Olen Foster, which have been compromised by land slippage. Both residents expressed a concern for their safety, noting that they hear cracks in the house at night.
“There is nothing like coming and seeing it first hand to have an actual understanding of the immediacy of action required. We have to look at taking rectification action urgently for as many people as are affected. This is not a case where you sit down and count dollars…. We are not going to put the lives of anybody at risk for a couple of dollars. It is a dire situation. There is an urgent need to relocate the persons on that side of the hill,” Mr. Abrahams stressed.
He further stated that it was a case where an “immediate” decision had to be made and action taken, but declined to go into further details as to what those actions were likely to be.
This was supported by Dr. Duguid, who stressed that “one life lost, was one too many”.
He also noted that there were several houses and structures that needed to be considered for relocation, and gave the assurance that the Ministry had approximately 12 spots available at Farmers, St. Andrew, to facilitate the process.
But, he said, that would form part of the long-term solution to addressing problems in the area. The Minister explained that Government would need to conduct geotechnical assessments in the area before any concrete decisions could be made for the area.
Minister Gooding-Edghill also noted that the St. Simons Road was one of several roads that fell under the Compliant Project earmarked to start next year.
That, he said, would also involve geotechnical investigation that would allow Government to further determine the extent of slippage in the area and the best response.
He added that the road also fell within the Scotland District areas that were earmarked under Government’s $230 million Road Improvement Programme.
“We would wish to advise residents that we would do everything in our power in the shortest possible time to ensure that we have stability with respect to the road infrastructure in this area…which will give them a greater level of comfort,” he said.
Senator Dr. Springer welcomed the intervention, noting that land slippage was a part of the reality of life for people living in St. Andrew. “I would do all I can to ensure that the concerns of the people…are heard and addressed,” he said.
Meanwhile, Acting Deputy Director of the Department of Emergency Management, Danielle Skeete, urged residents in the St. Andrew area and other parts of Barbados, to contact the department at 438-7575 if they saw any signs of land slippage.