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Oct 27, 2000

Area representative promises to help Port residents

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While the country received millions in aid as a result of the damage done by the hurricane, last week some residents of the Collet Division complained that they were not receiving any support to fix their homes. Today we decided to take a look at another part of the southside.

Jose Sanchez, Reporting

Today residents of Port Loyola spoke to their area representative about the damages they sustained after Hurricane Keith. We tagged along with Dolores Balderamos Garcia, who has been assisting some families with materials for repairs.

Verie Humes, Port Loyola Resident

“The top of the house was gone, the roof was not good. And while we were in the house we were getting wet. The rain just pour down in the house and we had to set buckets and different things in the house so that we don’t get wet up.”

Pauline Pascascio, Port Loyola Resident

“I went to see the people out there on Albert Street and right away they came and they help me. The housetop came off completely. I did not what to do. They told me to ask Miss Dolores for help. I asked her and one day and she send the things for me. But first yes, I was getting wet when it started to rain, I had to wake all the children to get up. Now we’re not wet, thank God for miss Dolores.”

Dolores Balderamos Garcia, Area Rep., Port Loyola

“What we’re trying to do is upgrade the conditions around here. As you see the streets that we are on now was not a street a year and a half ago. So we are trying to give people their access to come out so they are not on the London bridge.”

“We have really got to try to upgrade the conditions, so streets, naturally the drainage is going to be a big challenge and we are looking into that now. Then we are going to put in the lamp posts, lights and things like that.”

Things may be bright on Freedom Street, but in another area extending from Curl Thompson Street many people, who have squatted on land that they do not own, were recently told that they would have to find somewhere else to live. Yesterday they shared their concerns with us and today the Minister discussed their plight and promised that they will not sleep out in the cold.

Shelmadine Bowens, Port Loyola Resident

“We came behind here. It used to be lone bush, with big trees to the front. My gentleman and some other men got a chainsaw and chopped down everything. They cleaned out the area. Right here used to be high grass, you couldn’t eve pass through here. I personally chop around here with him and we settled down. Afterwards we heard that this is going to be a street, so we have to move the house from here now.”

Susana Velasquez, Port Loyola

“The first time I spoke to Miss Dolores she told me where was survey, we could start to build, we didn’t have to go for land papers. When we were finished building, then we can apply for our land papers. I started to build over there and when she came here after the hurricane, she told us we couldn’t build because behind here was for some purpose. I then asked her “Where could we get a piece of land?” She told us she has no idea right now because no land out there to give out to the people. That is what she told me after this hurricane. I told her that I had already started to build on the land already and you gave me permission. She said that the land was for high school, parks and playgrounds for the children.”

Susana speaking to Min. Dolores

“Well according to what I heard, all the lands from behind here is now canceled and has owners. When I lived to the back here from 1995 and chopped it down with machetes, I don’t think it’s fair.”

Dolores Balderamos Garcia

“Come to see us. And we will do it the correct way Susana.”

Susana Velasquez

“I just want you to show me a land where I will have no problem with nobody while I am building.”

Dolores Balderamos Garcia

“All I beg you not do is go and see a piece of land and squat on it because it might belong to someone else or it might be in the wrong spot. Come to us and we can do it in the right way. We will get on the map, and see what is there. When we do fix you up, it might take a while, but when you do fix you up, it will be for you and nobody can move you.”

One man who is refusing to move is Mr. Levi Slusher. Slusher, who claims to be the first to have built his home in the area, has been living there for ten years and plans to do so for many more.

Levi Slusher, Port Loyola Resident

“When I come in this area, it was all bush. I was the first one in this area. I discovered this piece of land and built a little house. I then began to add on to the house and then surveyors came and survey the land. When they did that, I got to know my land number.”

Dolores Balderamos Garcia

“In relation to Mr. Slusher, he happens to be on a piece of land that someone has a title for. Now this is not an unusual event in the Jane Usher Boulevard area. A lot of leases had been given out and people didn’t know where their land was. We are taking each case by its merits and one by one. What we’re going to try to do with Mr. Slusher is to see whether the person who has the title is willing to exchange, since he already has something built on it. It’s not something I can give the final decision on because we will have to take it both to the lands department and to the minister.”

Jose Sanchez

“So, you are saying in the end, these people will have a place that they can call home or their own?”

Dolores Balderamos Garcia

“Definitely. Definitely. There certainly won’t be enough land to go around for every single person behind here. That is why government is taking the position that we have the mile eight development, we have the development going at mile thirty one and we do have a few areas in Fabers Road, so we will try to see what we can do. Many times in these areas what we have to do is give a recommendation to another area representative for example in Belize Rural North or Belize Rural Central. I am very happy to say that my colleagues have been extremely cooperative. A lot of people have been getting their leases more up the road and it’s a mere fifteen minute commute to Belize City, at least to the centre of Belize City as we know it, so were working very hard on it.”

Reporting for News Five, Jose Sanchez.

The minister says that this situation is not new to the area. Some squatters have also built makeshift houses dangerously close to the roadside at the Port Authority. As of next week these persons will be placed in new homes on Neal Pen Road.

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