On September 20, 2013 I received telephone calls from some of the residents who are house-lot owners of Five Miles, Bartica who had been advised by two ministry officials on August 30 that they were to be relocated from this housing scheme since the land was eroding and as such was not suitable to build on.
The affected residents requested that the Bartica United Youth Development Group (BUYDG) attend a land meeting announced by Region 7 Chairman Gordon Bradford on his television programme, at which officers of the Ministry of Housing would be present, to seek to have the matter resolved in a peaceful manner.
On my arrival at the meeting around 08:00 hours on September 21, I spoke with a number of the affected residents who told me that they can’t accept the relocation by the ministry because they had waited for over five years before they acquired their present house lot, and some of them had started preparations to build their house, or had already begun building. If they were to accept the relocation to Region 3, as the ministry proposed, they would have to get new jobs, transfer the kids to new schools, have to seek a new place to rent or stay so they could be present to ensure supplies were made available for their house construction at the relocated lot. In short, they would have to start their lives all over again and give up their association with Bartica, a place where they were either born or had lived for most of their lives.
Two articles in the KN and SN reported on the irregular way in which the Five Miles house lots had been distributed. The residents asked me to advise them, and my response was that if the Ministry of Housing did not come up with a satisfactory resolution, then the way forward was for a BUYDG delegation, including some of the residents, to dispatch a letter to the government requesting a meeting to have the matter resolved urgently. They gave their full support to this.
However, a number of residents after waiting on the ministry officers for hours, started to leave since they needed to attend to their jobs.
Around 11:00 hours surprisingly four members of APNU including Mr Gordon Bradford and a guy who seemed to be working with the press since he had a video camera and was taking footage of the site and those present at the meeting, arrived to conduct the meeting. One of the APNU members was a shadow minister, and another an advisor to Mr David Granger.
I then left the site and on my way home I received calls from residents asking why I did not make a presentation. My response was that based on what I was told I was expecting officers of the ministry to conduct the meeting, not APNU. I further told them that when the APNU gets involved the situation may lead to a political issue and then it would be the people who need the help who would be the ones to suffer.
I also said that the objective of the BUYDG is to focus on development in this community and to seek to help residents by correcting situations affecting them. We also explore all avenues for developing Bartica and negotiating with the government to provide for the welfare of the residents and the youths of Bartica. Our objective is not to be in any political party or to deal with politics, and it is the government which has to put a system in place to have the situation corrected. As a consequence it is the government that BUYDG will seek to meet with to have the matter fixed.
General President/Chief Negotiator
Bartica United Youth Development Group