ST JOHN’S, Antigua – There is hope that help is on the way for Perry Bay squatters who were bracing for the February 15 relocation deadline issued by the Development Control Authority (DCA).
The close to 200 residents living in the community will know whether government will follow through with the eviction notice issued weeks ago, or soften the approach.
Government officials will convene talks today with religious leaders of Hispanic decent, who last week, called for consideration of the squatters’ needs and those of their children.
The illegal residents have maintained they have no where to go and hoped that government would assist them in relocating, despite the repeated notices issued by the DCA over the years.
According to DCA Chairman Leon Chaku Symister, during previous talks with the religious leaders, it seemed the message had hit home with the affected individuals.
He told a government-issued bulletin: “Based on our talks and the commitment from the pastors and other community leaders, we believe the message is resonating with the affected individuals. When Friday, dawns, if the DCA is satisfied that the process is underway, then we will give the people reasonable time to relocate.”
Symister also noted that residents who refused to budge would be dealt with accordingly.
“Some people choose to spin this as if the DCA is doing something to the people but what we are in fact doing is something for the people. God forbid our fears are realised, whether that is by the way of an outbreak or some other tragic occurrence in the community. The first thing the people will ask is where was the enforcement and how could we allow this situation to go unchecked for so long.”
The DCA chairman has maintained that “Squatting is an issue in many areas, but we have identified Perry Bay, Yorks and Piggott as the areas where we are past the point of needing urgent attention, and, of those areas three areas, Perry Bay is the worst.”
He said it is not only about illegal structures but “unsafe, unstable buildings where effluent is being disposed directly in the waterway.”