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2 hospitalised after ‘trauma’

The trinidad Guardian / Two people had to be taken to the Sangre Grande District Hospital for medical treatment on Monday evening, after they returned to their Pine Avenue, Valencia property to find their homes had been demolished by a crew hours earlier.

Residents still reeling from the action the day before yesterday told the T&T Guardian that resident Yvette Moore collapsed, while an unidentified man suffered a heart attack and remained warded at the hospital, after they returned home Monday night to find their properties in ruin.

Some 15 properties were destroyed by a team of police and soldiers sent by the Commissioner of State Lands on Monday. Protesting residents, who claimed they were neither given notices nor told the reason why their homes were demolished, eventually got the demolition team to go after continued protest. But the team has promised to return.

Police kept watch over the community on Monday night after the residents had lit debris along the Valencia stretch in protest on Monday.

Yesterday, as the affected residents – some of whom sought shelter with either family or friends overnight – tried to come to terms with what had happened, some were wondering how to go forward.

Ashmi Joseph said her husband Selwyn died two months ago and this situation was adding to her woes.

“I am mentally stressed out. I have six children who all live by me and now we are on the streets with no place to call home,” Joseph said.

Showing her documents to T&T Guardian, she said she had been living on the land since 1983.

“My deceased husband Selwyn and myself developed this community by paying for the basic commodities, water, electricity and road,” she claimed.

Joseph reminded those in authority that communities are built by squatters, as most of the infrastructure is laid down thanks to squatters, who cannot afford land to build a place they will call home otherwise.

Another frustrated squatter, Ashmeed Mohammed, added: “We not encouraging wrong doing, not hurting anybody, we not selling drugs, we not trying to rob.

“Ah mean oh God, have mercy for we. As people we trying to help ourselves. Oh God, come to we and deal with we like human beings, doh deal with we like if we doh exist. You put us on streets for a lil piece of land that we work hard to build a house where we can live and continue to live.”

A few residents said they called the Commissioner of State Lands’ office yesterday and were told they never gave instructions to break down people’s homes. A release from the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, under whose purview the Land Settlement Agency (LSA) falls, also yesterday said the agency was not responsible for the demolition, as was reported in yesterday’s paper.

Residents also said MP Glenda Jennings-Smith was yet to visit them to address their concerns and provide them with some sort of relief or assurance such an incident would not happen again.

Around 1.30 pm yesterday, after police who were there overnight left the scene, the angry villagers returned to the Valencia stretch to burn debris in another protest, causing all traffic leaving and entering Sangre Grande to come to a standstill.

This time, however, police were on hand at Guaico Junction to direct motorists to alternative routes.

ASP Robain, who was out directing officers, said the action was illegal and called on the resident to stop it.

“People, if caught setting fires on the nation’s roadway, will be arrested and charged,” Robain said, adding police will be monitoring the situation day and night to ensure the travelling public is not inconvenienced again.

But the residents vowed to continue their protests until they get a guarantee no more houses will be broken down and those which were destroyed are compensated for.

RALPH BANWARIE

 

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