Terror on the Terrace

Terror on the Terrace

Squatters making life hellish for residents of once-upscale St Andrew East Rural community

BY ARTHUR HALL
Editor-at-large
halla@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, June 02, 2019

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Legitimate residents of the St Andrew East Rural community of Caribbean Terrace, near Harbour View, are becoming more and more frustrated as squatters continue to occupy the damaged, abandoned buildings in their once -upscale community.

“The people of Caribbean Terrace are suffering because of these squatters, and it seems nobody is hearing our cry,” declared one of the residents who spoke with the Jamaica Observer last week.

The residents all requested that their names be withheld as they charged that, despite several appeals for help, nothing has been done to remove the squatters who steal electricity and water, use the seaside as a toilet, and engage in prostitution and other illegal activities in the houses which were damaged by hurricanes Ivan in 2004 and Dean in 2007.

“In 2016, then Mayor of Kingston Angela Brown Burke toured the community. She saw that the squatters were living in the houses which were declared condemned and she issued notices to the people to evacuate,” said one resident.

“The mayor kept a meeting with us in June and she said they had to go, as she was aware of the activities taking place there, including transactional sex. Some left, but most remained, and others have since moved in,” added the resident.

Efforts to get an update from the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC) were unsuccessful last week, but one official of the corporation, who said he was not authorised to speak, confirmed that the notices had been issued.

“We have tried to remove them but we cannot police the area, and we are aware that others have moved in. There are plans to have a meeting with the head of the police Kingston Eastern Division to devise a plan of action, and a statement will be issued after,” said the KSAMC official.

But that is not enough for the legitimate householders who have seen their property values decline each year, even though their houses were not impacted by the hurricanes.

“Our fear is not the hurricanes. I have lived here through three major hurricanes and only the houses close to the beach were impacted. My fear is the persons who have captured the abandoned houses and are dragging the community down to a certain level,” declared one resident who has lived in Caribbean Terrace for more than 40 years.

He argued that the original owners of the buildings that were damaged by the hurricanes were compensated by the Government and the buildings condemned, so anyone living there now is squatting.

“I think it is well over 100 squatters living there, as every day you see more and more people moving in. There is one gentleman who has moved from being one of the original squatters to now the mayor of the area. He invites people to move in and charge them rent. He bridges light and run underground pipes to give water to those who can pay for it,” said the resident.

“Those who don’t pay for the water from him, they go out with buckets to catch water. Almost all of them defecate in bags and dump it on the seaside, and the rubbish is just thrown anywhere,” said the frustrated, legitimate homeowner.

Another resident expressed her disappointment that what she bought to be her dream home for her then growing family, is now one she wants to sell, but nobody is buying.

“Because of the area, you can’t get insurance, the parish council not giving you permission to build, and the only thing happening is that some people are converting their houses and renting them out to students of the Caribbean Maritime University. But even then, there is fear because of the squatters,” said the resident.

“When he was in charge of housing in December 2016, Dr Horace Chang announced that houses would be built in Harbour View and the people of Caribbean Terrace would be given first choice, but since then we have heard nothing. Even our Member of Parliament Juliet Holness seems to not care about us,” added the resident.

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