Claxton Bay residents still waiting for relief

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NO RELIEF YET: Claxton Bay resident Giles Garcia points to the home of Marva Fitz which has now separated because of ongoing land slippage in the area. – Lincoln Holder

RESIDENTS of Belle Vue, Claxton Bay, whose homes were damaged by a major landslip on September 15, 2021, remain concerned about the continued danger that the landslip poses to their safety and their homes.

They are also concerned that no one has offered any tangible help to them since the incident happened.

Giles Garcia, 62, one of the residents, lost his house when the landslip happened. He is staying at another house nearby.

He told Newsday on Sunday, the land is continuing to shift

Pointing to some new damage to an abandoned house nearby, Garcia said this was “the aftermath of another earth movement.”

He pointed to a nearby sand quarry and attributed the latest movement to mining activity taking place there.

From last September to now, Garcia said, nothing has been done to help the residents.

He added that all they have received to date are “a set of promises”.

Garcia recalled that the first set of conversations was about the residents relocating.

This later changed to a proposal to let them continue to rent on the land for a further six months.

Garcia said this proposal was never acted on and the residents were never told what would happen at the end of the six-month period.

He also said an assessment was done on the properties affected by the landslip

“We can’t get a piece of land to buy with that kind of money.”

Promises of housing from the Government have not materialised to date, he added. Garcia also said residents only received three months of rental assistance from Government as well.

“You can’t ask people to move out of their private land for nothing.”

Garcia said residents were not even being offered something similar to what they owned as a replacement if relocation is their option.

He added that Pointe-a-Pierre MP David Lee has been communicating with them about their situation and residents have sought legal advice as well.

On November 12, 2021, Lee raised the issue as a matter on the adjournment of the House of Representatives.

In response, then agriculture minister Clarence Rambharat said there was no indiscriminate quarrying at Coco Road, which is “one of the few licensed quarries in this country.” Rambharat said pre-2009, this quarry operated “without any form of statutory cover.”

“We fixed that and I am confident that the Coco Road quarry operates completely within the laws of TT.”

He said preliminary investigations on the landslip point out “that the incident happened 170 metres from the buffer zone.”

But out of caution, work was suspended at the quarry. Subsequently, Rambharat said the resumption of work was authorised “far from the affected area.”

On the issue of liability, Rambharat said that was either for a state entity or the courts to determine.


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