Repairs being carried out on houses affected by the passage of Tropical Storm Tomas last October are on stream.

This assurance was given last Friday by Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs, Adriel Brathwaite.?? His comments came as he led a delegation that included Minister of Housing, Lands, Urban and Rural Development, Michael Lashley; Minister of State in the Ministry of Housing, Patrick Todd; and other government officials, to visit some of the affected areas in St. Michael, Christ Church, St. John and St. Philip.

The Attorney General said that both the Urban and Rural Development Commissions currently had 200 cases each allocated to them, with 140 cases currently being addressed, while others were being assessed to determine the level of assistance required.

"We are touring both urban and rural [areas], to get a sense of the progress and also a sense of some of the issues … There are some projects that have been completed, and some that are a work in progress, and we even saw a couple of houses with tarpaulins still on," Mr. Brathwaite added.

The Home Affairs Minister pointed out that there were areas in St. John and St. Andrew, where persons had to be relocated due to land slippage and his Ministry would have to seek assistance from the Ministry of Housing, to acquire land for those individuals.

He disclosed that there were land issues which had delayed the rebuilding process.

"We are faced with a number of challenges including land disputes … there are areas where landlords have simply said, ???No, I will not give you permission to rebuild a house there’, and there are cases where family members have actually said that they will not give us permission for their family to rebuild on the land… Then we had the challenge of having rain almost all year, and that has also retarded the process," the Home Affairs Minister explained.

Mr. Brathwaite added: "One of the things that we are actually going to have to look at is to see that legislatively this does not happen again, that you have an emergency situation and landlords and landowners take it as an opportunity to ???kick people’ off their lands … we are going to give it some serious attention because we are concerned that if we have an even greater event than Tomas, that we could end up with hundreds of persons being dislocated."

The Attorney General, however, remained optimistic about meeting the October projection, stating that the project was still operating at "a decent pace."????

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