VIDEO: Nowhere to go

Junction roadwork to displace family; no compensation given

BY KIMONE FRANCIS
Observer staff reporter
francisk@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, June 10, 2019

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A notice from the National Works Agency (NWA) ordering residents to vacate their homes in Junction, St Mary has left one family in limbo.

The NWA notice, issued last month, advised residents that the land they've occupied for more than 40 years is now in the possession of the commissioner of lands.

It said the compulsory acquisition is necessary to “facilitate the GOJ (Government of Jamaica) Roads Rehabilitation Project” from Tom's River to Agualta in St Mary.

But one family has taken issue with NWA's notice, arguing that no preparation has been made to ensure the family's well-being after “displacement”.

Danny Forrester, in an interview with the Jamaica Observer North & East last Wednesday, said no explanation has been given by the NWA in terms of the way forward.

“The workman them come and seh bwoy we affi come off of the land in two days. Mi tell them seh that can't work because the paperwork not finished yet. Them seh that nuh matter bwoy we affi come off and a yesterday (last Monday) them come and seh that,” Forrester said.

“The paperwork don't finish. All now we don't get any money fi wi house so how wi a go come off without the money? We affi sure seh the money inna the bank enuh before mi we move out,” Forrester added.

The man said the situation has left him feeling helpless and “very, very bad”.

He explained to Observer North & East that his family has identified a property where it is willing to relocate with the promise from NWA that rent will be taken care of, however, that plan has so far not materialised.

“The form weh them give we fi fill out that we can go into the bank for the money so we can pay the rent, all now that nuh sort out. Because them seh them a come fi dig off [house] and them a seh a government land now and this and that and we can't do anything about it we would leave. It all upset me,” said Forrester.

The man said the NWA has promised to cover rent for one year but it is not clear what will happen after.

“That's a the big problem weh we have ya now. I don't trust what them saying because them tell me up to a year and when you check it out everything stop. I don't get anything in writing to say this,” he explained.

Donovan Reid, who is related to Forrester but occupies a separate living quarter, expressed concern about the notice although one was not issued to him.

“I concerned because where I see them put up the peg is three times now them putting it up. Them move me from down near the road and I move go up where I am now and they're trying. They're now digging by me. When I ask one of the NWA man what's going on them say they are going to go around my house but where them put the peg if them go there my house is going to be affected. So I [am] concerned,” Reid theorised.

He said the workmen have so far removed his coconut and fruit trees, reportedly valued at approximately $600,000.

“Them dig them down and nobody come to me and say anything. I live here from I born. I born on the property. My great-grandfather owned it. I have the title for it that my grandfather dead leave. I value my place and they are supposed to pay me for it,” the man said.

Efforts to reach the NWA were unsuccessful.


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