The Kingston and St. Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSMC), are to destroy eight (8) houses constructed on a slope in Shooter’s Hill, Bull Bay in St. Andrew.
This action was prompted following the tragedy which claimed the lives of 15-year-old Sanique Leachman and her 42-year-old father Romeo Leachman, after a major landslide flattened their home, burying them underground, during heavy rains which lashed across the country in October last year. The aftermath of the incident left eight houses destroyed, which later resulted in the government issuing a cease and desist order on building in the area.
Member of Parliament for St. Andrew East Rural, Juliet Holness, said the affected citizens in Shooter’s Hill understood why this demolition has to take place and remains hopeful towards plans for the future.
“The residents who are in a position that what is remaining of their home has to be demolished. They have been notified and they appreciate that this has to be done. I think all they are hoping for is a permanent solution in terms of giving them somewhere else to live. Many of them, though they have rent being paid for them, are living in places that they would prefer not to be, they would love to be back in their own home,” said Mrs. Holness.
She also provided details of plans for the compromised areas and an outline of the way forward in seeking solutions towards relocation in the Seven and Nine Mile areas.
“The Ministry of Housing has done a total assessment on costing and we’ll be going to cabinet to present the situation for both the residents of Shooter’s Hill and the residents of Weise Road, Nine Mile as it relates to relocation and housing solutions,” she added.
The MP also highlighted that 18 individuals who were left homeless, following the destruction of their houses by the heavy rains, have been receiving assistance from the government.
“One of the house actually just went underground, others broke and just slid off the mountainside. Those persons were temporarily housed in the shelter and taken care of by particularly the Poor Relief of the KSMC. They have since then all been relocated, albeit temporarily and rent is being paid for them by the government while we continue to wait for permanent solutions,” Mrs. Holness stated.
These statements were made yesterday during a tour of the Shooter’s Hill community by the East Rural St. Andrew Member of Parliament.
Mrs. Holness further pointed out that it is yet to be determined if the area should be permanently declared unsafe for building, as geotechnical analysis is currently being conducted.
But, one Shooter’s Hill resident Norman Grant, who lost his house during the catastrophe last year, is adamant that the area should be declared unsafe.
“No dem cya build nutten new, don’t even think ‘bout dat…must be someweh else! Probly roun’ addi next side a hill weh more safer and stronger and firmer but this is a hill weh saturated with water and you can see all the ground, river come through it. Suh yah suh is like a condemn place and the government has to write it off ‘cause it’s a disaster area,” said Mr. Grant.
Over the years, sections of Bull Bay and its adjoining communities in St. Andrew have experienced several cases of destruction of lives and properties due to rainfall, as the area is prone to flooding. With the start of the Tropical Hurricane Season on June 1, Mr. Grant, along with many residents of the area are hoping that the assistance promised by the MP will be fulfilled sooner than later.
Mckoy’s News Senior Writer- Natasha Williams