Parry Town residents want distinction made between formal and informal residences
PARRY TOWN, ST ANN — Residents of Parry Town say it is high time the distinction be made between their formal community and the adjoining 'Capture Land,' which has resulted in the entire area being labelled as an informal settlement.
Angry Parry Town residents said they have always been proud of their hometown and do not wish for the image of the community, which has produced many great Jamaicans, to be tainted or for them to be considered squatters.
"We are not squatters; it is time the differentiation be made," an upset resident told the Jamaica Observer North East.
The resident, a lawyer who opted to remain anonymous, said some community members are landowners, and the adjoining area known as 'Capture Land' should not be used to refer to the wider community.
"Parry Town is still home to teachers, nurses and many professionals," she added.
She explained that many of the residents in the community have migrated, or travel overseas often and, as such, some of their lands were taken over by persons who moved to the area.
"Many persons have migrated and that is why the area has been inundated with squatters," she explained.
Given the high levels of violence sometimes associated with informal settlements, Parry Town is often in the news. However, residents believe the distinction should be made in news reports which often refer to the entire community as an informal settlement.
"I have always used my address wherever I go and want the distinction to be made," she added.
A businesswoman, who also requested anonymity, said the reference to the community as an informal settlement has created a challenge for some residents, especially when they are seeking employment.
"It causes bad things on the community," she told the Observer North East.
Fixing the problem, she said, is not just about differentiating, but working to solve the problems which face the informal settlement.
"They need to do something about it. It's not all bad over there (Capture Land); good is over there but because of the stigma it covers the entire community," she added.
Meanwhile, it is not only landowners who would like to see changes in the community.
Residents who live at Capture Land said they would like their situation to change but getting out of poverty, for many, is a challenge due to the lack of employment.
"We no have nothing fi do so ah so comes dem a call we gangsters," said a community member who identified himself only as Marcus.
"And we who a try ah get a fight, because right now mi have a matter before the court where a man push down mi fish farm say Government lease him the land. How dem fi lease the land wid people on it? questioned Marcus.
In the meantime, the residents of both areas said there are issues affecting community members that need to be addressed.
"Ah one time a week we get water," one resident explained.
Businessman Conrad Boswell said water has not run through some pipes for years.
"We want road and water," he said, adding, "we not even have a community centre we can sit down and talk in".
Boswell believes the violence associated with the informal settlement is due to the lack of employment among the young people.
"Dem hungry; dem no have no work, nobody to motivate them. If dem did have somewhere to be other than on the corner dem wouldn't have time to chop up mi and you, dem mind would be focused on something else," he expressed.
"Youth up here have talent, but there is nobody to guide them," he added.
Members of the informal settlement said they have had Government officials coming in and collecting information about them, but that is as far as it goes.
Boswell did not support claims that it was a person's address which prevented them from being employed, but more a lack of opportunities, support and directive for the youth.
"Dem deh things a long time days. As long as you fit to do the job, you will get the job," he stated.
While calling on the relevant authorities to address the poor road condition and water crisis in the community, Boswell also called for a community centre to be built to assist with getting young men off the street corners and to engage them in productive activities.