Relocation from Forum beach by month-end

Relocation from Forum beach by month-end

Fisherfolk still uncertain of move as grant money is long spent

BY TANEISHA MUNDLE Observer staff reporter

Monday, October 13, 2014

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AS the month-end deadline approaches for occupants of the informal Forum Fishing Village to relocate, many are still in a quandary as they have since used up the $45,000 relocation grant, which they claim was never enough to begin with.

The more than 140 fisherfolk, some of whom live on beach, were given eviction notices in July following the January sale of the Forum Hotel to the Portmore Marina Development Limited (PMDL).

The fisherfolk were informed by Urban Development Corporation (UDC) that they would be relocated to an area on Port Henderson road (popularly called Back Road), where a new Forum Fishing Village would be constructed to include facilities for a gear shed for storage of equipment; a separate fish-scaling area; a mooring section; on-site fuel storage; proper parking facilities; separate bathroom and shower facilities; a garbage collection area and an approved sewage disposal system.

The vendors and shop operators were also promised 12x12 units of which the foundation and utilities connection would be provided by the UDC.

However, yesterday when the Jamaica Observer visited the fishing village, many complained that they have already spent the relocation funds for other purposes as it was not a reasonable sum.

According to one resident, Karen Scotland, who has operated a shop on the beach for more than 20 years, said they were never informed at the inception that they would have to use new building materials and thought they could reuse the ones they currently have.

"Mi get $45,000, but dem never tell mi seh all dem material weh mi have ah reject board. But me nah guh Back Road guh sell mi body; Mi have six pickney and six granpickney fi feed," she said.

"We never expect that and dem never highlight it say that the material dat we have was not good and dat we affi use new board, but a what mi have mi ah use," she added.

When asked about the relocation grant another resident Watson said, "Me nyam and party dat out long time, and buy gas guh sea, and dat done long time," she said, while adding that the money they were given was 'chump change' that cannot cover the cost for expensive plyboards and pay workmen.

Sharing similar sentiments was Fringe, a fisherman who lives alone on the beach.

"Dem give us $45,000, but dem give us wen breeze a blow and nutten nah gwaan, so we affi spend dat," he said.

According to him, the UDC should have erected the shops for them and charged them monthly for the structures.

"All di time Government ah develop beach dem neva yet say a foundation dem a give, mi check say a structure we ah get," he remarked.

When asked what he intended to do, Fringe, like Watson, declared, "A wey mi ave mi ah use."

Delroy, another fisherman who has been on the beach for more than 20 years with his common-law wife and six children, said UDC should have given them at least $200,000.

"It nuh do good; a betta dem did move it up and gi we a $200,000, everybody would a run gwaan up deh and do the best with di money fi set up dem thing" he said.

"When nutten nah gwaan and man nah go a sea dem ah go eat it," he said in relation to the relocation grant, which he too labelled as 'chump change'.

However, Delroy, like several of his colleagues who have resigned themselves to their fate and gearing up to move, said, "Mi affi move me caan meck dem, lick me off," he said.

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