Diamond residents to be relocated in 2019


Diamond residents to be relocated in 2019

Monday, December 24, 2018

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IF Member of Parliament for Portland Western Daryl Vaz has his way, residents of Diamond, an informal settlement in Buff Bay, will be relocated to the Lennox community by next year.

Diamond, located on the bank of the Buff Bay River, is home to more than 40 families living in houses perched on diamond-shaped concrete built over 50 years ago to contain the river.

Residents use ladders to get around the community, one of many in Portland riddled with garbage.

“It's 30 houses with a population of over 85 persons and that was October 2017. There are no waste facilities, no toilets and an extremely poor waste management system. It is an area for mosquito breathing. There is a risk to safety because of the closeness to the river, especially when the river is in spate.

“Based on my checks, the only parcel of land is that parcel identified by the National Land Agency that is Government land that is in close proximity, not walking distance, but easy access in terms of transportation. The objective for this long-standing problem is to work with Food for the Poor (FFP) to duplicate a project they did in St Catherine. We identify the land, put in infrastructure, Food For The Poor build out the houses and other social services. This would be a win-win situation and those persons who are very emotionally attached here would have to look at what they are getting in return for this; a roof over their head and also the amenities and services to make them be able to live a very comfortable life in comparison to what is here,” said Vaz.

He said that the Government is working on the solution, while the police and the municipal cooperation will have to work to prevent residents from returning to Diamond.

“It will be zero tolerance after we do what we are doing here for it is protecting them from themselves and the lurking damages. The more the kids come here the more chance of them being washed away etc,” he noted.

FFP Project Manager Marcus Irons said that the move is not just about the relocation of residents, but also about generating income through a community-based project.

“We have started the pilot project in Mc Cooks Pen where we have 30 plus houses along with a community centre that we also use for a soup kitchen, skills training centre and agricultural components as we will not be just relocating people to a new house, we want to give them more of an income generating opportunity.

“We'll have an agricultural component and they will be able to build and come together in a communal space where they can help each other and come out of this type of situation. The objective is that and today visually seeing what is here, where we at now and where we want to go to. It gives a better appreciation of what's needed and how we are going to do it as different agencies coming together to establish one objective. We have no timeline yet. We are getting the statistics and from there put our heads and resources together and come up with a dynamic plan to help every family member in the community here,” Irons added.

A resident, although agreeing to leave, wants to remain in the Buff Bay area.

“It is 34 years I have been living here in the piece of house and it a break down and I can't fix it, but I don't want to go to Lennox. I would be glad to move off here, but I want to stay here. I don't really want to leave from Buff Bay. I appreciate the move from here, but we don't want to go up to Lennox,” Rosemarie Coulbourne said.

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