The city yesterday announced that it was going to tear down 52 derelict buildings (see list below) and occupants of some of the structures say they were unaware of these plans.
City Hall, in a page two advertisement in yesterday’s Guyana Times said that at an August 22nd statutory meeting, a resolution was passed to demolish the buildings which are in a ruinous state and pose a danger to occupants and members of the public. The notice also informed that the City Engineer’s Department will begin pulling down the buildings from October 5.
At one of the buildings, Lot 29, Norton Street, Lodge, an elderly man, Courtenay Griffith lives on the upper flat of the house which is in a dire state. Griffith, who is a plumber by profession explained to Stabroek News that he grew up at the house but because of a health condition he is unable to work. He cannot lift any of his hands, he told this newspaper, explaining that savings he accumulated over the years were spent on medical bills. “All the lil money I had done and nobody still can’t tell me what happen… I can’t even turn a newspaper page,” Griffith said.
Griffith said he never received a notice from the Mayor and City Council informing that the property in which he, his wife and son along with a sister-in-law live, would be demolished. The man said during the past years he had done renovations to the roof and beams of the house.
“I changed out all them beams down stairs and the roof. I did work… this house don’t shake,” he added, explaining that he doesn’t share the same opinion of the council that it should be torn down. “I can’t do the work… I ain’t get the money to pay people to do it,” he lamented.
Over at Lot 95 & 96, Upper Robb Street, Bourda, two families reside in a three-storey, colonial-style building. Devon Hendricks lives with his wife and two children in the bottom flat while Kelvia Williams resides with her three children and husband in the upper flat. Both families professed shock when told of the impending dismantling. The occupants said they are only the caretakers of the home which they believe just needs to be washed and possibly repainted. Hendricks said he has lived at the house for the past three years and did not find any part of the house to be a hazard to him or his family. Both families find it difficult to believe that the house is listed to be taken down.
In Section ‘J’ Campbellville, Adrian Reid an occupant of a shabby house that is in dire need of repairs said he read of the city’s plans in the newspaper but was unaware that the home he and seven others, including two toddlers and a teenager, occupy is listed to be broken down.
Reid, a retired policeman, said he had to stop working due to health complications. He explained that over the years no one paid interest to the property since they were concerned about who owned it. “We didn’t want to invest and don’t know what would happen if we had to move out”, he noted.
When asked if the house is torn down what would be the next move for the family, he said it would be unclear. He went on to say that he has a piece of land over the river but he does not have the finances to build a home.
Stabroek News also visited Lot 48, High and Barrack streets, Kingston, which had housed a condemned two-storey building which was gutted by fire in 2011. At the site, a series of huts were built and they house close to twenty persons. Occupants there like the others said they are unaware that the city has plans to tear down the structures. Gloria Nedd, spokesperson of the group said “what you see here is what we built after the fire. We don’t have money to go build houses. This is what we can afford.” She went on to say “I work for six thousand dollars a week and I have three children to take care of so tell me how I can afford to build a new house?”
The woman also noted that they are currently in court with a resident who had been trying to purchase the land since before the 2011 fire.
The only remains from the 2011 fire is a post that helped support the building they called “a palace”.
At the time of the fire, 70 persons had occupied the home.
Stabroek News also visited the North Ruimveldt structures earmarked for demolition. Those buildings are concrete structures on lands filled with greenery.
A few sites Stabroek News visited were observed to have already experienced demolition and new life is springing up. This suggests that the city’s assessment was done some time ago. The building which is home to the House of Israel church on Sixth and Light streets in Alberttown is also listed to be torn down. When this newspaper visited yesterday, occupants refused to speak.
The city advertisement cited Georgetown Building by-laws under the Municipal and District Councils Act, Chapter 28:01. The notice said persons requiring more information can contact the Public Relations Division of the municipality on 225 -2218.