Pig farmer Jean Bacchus has gone from asking City Hall to have compassion to securing an injunction against the Mayor and City Council to prevent it from evicting her farming operations behind the Le Repentir Cemetery.
At last week Monday’s statutory meeting, Mayor Patricia Chase-Green indicated that Bacchus had been granted an injunction which prevents the council from enforcing an eviction notice it issued in April.
Chase-Green took aim at those councillors who had defended Bacchus, while noting that in asking that she be given time as an act of mercy, she got just enough time to take the council to court.
“Now we have to find money to hire another lawyer to fight this and we will fight it,” the mayor declared.
At the M&CC’s last statutory meeting for March, constituency councillor Monica Thomas mentioned Bacchus’ operation, which sparked a debate among councillors.
Thomas had said that the rearing and slaughtering of pigs in the cemetery posed a health risk to residents of the surrounding areas.
APNU+AFC Councillor Oscar Clarke had, however, called on the council to work with other agencies and advise the farmer what needs to be done to set up a legitimate operation. He noted that while the council was looking to safeguard the health of residents, it should also consider the livelihood of the farmer.
After much deliberations, Chase-Green had instructed King to serve a notice to the farmer informing of her breaches of city regulations and the measures that would be taken if she failed to comply.
Subsequently, Bacchus was given two weeks’ notice to vacate the space. It was the second notice issued to the farmer for the year.
Speaking with Stabroek News in April, Bacchus acknowledged receipt of the notices but said she was hoping that the council will have compassion if she did not find a suitable place in time to relocate her pigs.
“I am trying to get a place. I was supposed to get a piece of land in Mocha but I went to meet the man who owns it and he was not around. I am just asking for some time…,” she said.
Bacchus explained that she had been operating at the Princes Street location, behind the National Gymnasium, for over 16 years without any objection from the council. She stated that after her husband died some years ago, she began to farm at the location, in the vicinity of the dump site.
“I used this farm to mine me and meh children. All them years nobody never said nothing to me. I got permission to use here but I cannot find the paper after all them years this…,” she said, while questioning the actions of the council.
“I see they said that the pigs pulling away bones. But you see [showing the reporter] where the pigs are? Right in this piece of land they stay. Where I am here is far from where they are burying people…,” the woman argued.
At that time, 10 sows and 65 piglets were on the farm. Bacchus also noted that a few of the sows were expected to give birth within a few days and moving them could distress them.
She further stated that the sty was cleaned at least three times a day and that neighbours had never
complained about a stench or objected to her rearing the pigs.
Asked if they slaughtered pigs at the location, she said yes but explained that they had only done so after the slaughtering room at the municipal abattoir became non-functional.
The farm has approximately four pens and is equipped with running water. The area that housed the pens was heavily concreted, indicating that the operation has been around for a number of years.
Bacchus also claimed that the municipality’s Environmental Officer has never identified any unsanitary practices before stating that on one occasion had warned her to desist from slaughtering pigs at the location and she complied for a time.