'It nuh nice'

Barbican Road residents describe upgrading work as a nuisance

BY KIMONE FRANCIS
Observer staff reporter
francisk@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, April 23, 2018

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SEVERAL residents in Barbican, St Andrew say they have not been compensated for their land even as work, which began last September, continues on the US$4.4-million upgrade of Barbican Road.

The residents, the majority asking not to be named, described the road upgrade as a nuisance in their everyday life.

“They told us to give an estimate, but as you can see they're also taking a piece of the property and nobody has said anything; so we are waiting,” one woman told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.

The woman said the wall of her property was knocked down in February, leaving the place vulnerable to trespassers and stray animals.

“This thing should finish from the end of February and we're at the end of April now. I have an asthmatic inside here and two elders. Dem cough right throughout. My mother's blood pressure went up because of this. We don't even know who to report these things to. Is not like seh somebody a liaise with you. If you try say something to the Chinese people, dem walk leave you because they don't understand,” she complained.

“Many nights I drive come in and can't park here. I have to park over the gas station and wait until how much hours a night to come in. Plus, dem use the big old roller in the night, jerk you out of your sleep. This morning (yesterday) they had a generator and other equipment digging off a piece of wall right there,” the resident said, pointing to the remainder of her wall.

She said that her attorney has written to the Government, but to date has not received a response.

Another woman, who also shared her experience, said that life has been “terrible” since the road improvement work began. She told the Observer that she has had sleepless nights since activities began.

“It nuh nice. On top of not getting anything for your place — no compensation, nothing — you can't sleep. My skin itches non-stop. It is terrible, man, very terrible. We never anticipated this at all. We knew the roadwork would start but we never expect this,” she said.

According to her, there has been no meeting to inform the residents about changes to initial plans.

“When we had checked with the land agency we were not a part of what they were doing, so we should not be a part of this phase one. We were told that they would contact us once they are ready [but] to date, nobody has come to us and said that our property would be affected. When we found out last year that they gave other people letter and we didn't get any, we went to the land agency, and all now NWA (National Works Agency) and Government don't come talk to we,” the woman stated.

“We kept hearing that they are not going to touch us, but see it there. So we're still not sure what is happening; we're just here waiting to see what will take place because it is unfair. It is very unfair,” she added.

The Observer spoke to the occupants of a premises off Barbican Road who said no one has explained the reason for “cutting the land”.

“Dem shoulda tek it over the next side, dem tek it over here. Di measurement not even look right. We haffi put up sheet so when people a pass dem can't stare right inna wi bedroom. Dem something here nuh right. We nuh get nothing for it either,” one man said.

Ewan Messam, who has also been living off Barbican Road for five years, told the Observer that his issue is security.

“We know seh construction did a gwaan. We expect the discomfort, but not to the extent weh we a experience it. From when me a beg dem fi build back mi wall and all now. Mi buy mi car and can't park it here cause mi nuh want dem thief it. Me did think seh dem did a go put on back di wall after dem build back the sidewalk and all now the wall nuh fix back. A over Fontana [Pharmacy] me a park from January, and every morning mi haffi get up early and every evening. That a my problem,” Messam said.

“Monday gone, dem seh dem a fix back di three wall dem one time, but dem don't say when. A next thing, mi need dem fi connect back mi pit. Dem break down the sewage and a tell mi foolishness a mi ears. Right now, water a back-up and a health problem dat. Mi haffi constantly a clean it up. I talk to dem 'bout it and dem nuh do nothing about it,” he shared.

The Observer contacted Stephen Shaw, communications manager at NWA, who said that residents who have presented legitimate documents have been compensated.

“There are several things at play. You have persons who don't have any right to seek compensation who might want compensation. You have persons who, while they may have a beneficial interest in a property, they can't show anything legal. In other words, they don't have any title and Government can't do business like that,” Shaw said.

He told the Observer that if given more information from residents, he will do a full-scale investigation.

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