Chair of the Housing and Land Development Corporation (HLDC) Beresford Phillips hung up the phone on I-Witness News Monday night amidst inquires by homeowners about whether the HLDC has decided to demolish a house in Clare Valley, where one collapsed in September.
“Wherever you get that information from, let them confirm it for you. You hear me?” Philips told I-Witness News when asked shortly after 8 p.m. whether there was any truth to the reports.
He had earlier in the brief telephone conversation accused I-Witness News of publishing information without verifying it, although this is the first article that we are publishing about the reported plan to demolish the house. (Listen to audio below)
Persons familiar with the development have told I-Witness News that the house will be demolished, while the HLDC reconsiders the scope of remedial work that is needed in the area.
I-Witness News was also reliably informed that the residents of the house in question and another on that street have since vacated the buildings.
On Tuesday morning, I-Witness News visited the house in question, which is located to the right of the one that collapsed on Sept. 19.
There was evidence of attempts to reinforce the house. But there was also significant earth movement at the lower embankment, to the extent that footing of one of the columns is already exposed, and large cracks have appeared towards the upper side of building.
Two sheets of tarpaulins are spread on the ground near to house, presumable to protect it from the incessant rain.
Persons familiar with the development have told I-Witness News that the earth movement has already destroyed the septic tank at the house.
But while the HLDC has chosen not to comment on the matter, a resident of the area told I-Witness News that have been “some talks by residents about that”.
The resident, however, noted that a lot of work is taking place on the site where the house collapsed and on more than 10 of the other houses.
Since the collapse of the house in Sept., the state has been taking a number of step to shore up other houses in the state-planned and executed housing settlement, including several that state officials have said need urgent attention.
Phillips seemed displeased by a story I-Witness News published last Friday about a closed-door meeting that the HLDC had on Nov. 6 with persons who have applied and are paying for, and waiting to receive houses at Green Hill, three months after they were contractually due.
In the closed-door meeting, a recording of which was sent to I-Witness News, the HLDC’s clients complained about the late delivery of their houses, which have resulted in them having to pay both rent and mortgage.
In the meeting, Phillips, a businessman and aspiring candidate for the ruling Unity Labour Party in the next general elections, suggested the Central Water and Sewerage Authority, also a state-owned company, was partly to be blamed for the late delivery of the houses.
But Garth Saunders, general manager of the CWSA, on Friday showed I-Witness News documents proving that the HLDC has not been responding in a timely manner to the CWSA’s communication about connecting water to the housing settlement in Green Hill.
Saunders also that the CWSA was willing to help the HLDC, but added that his company also has a reputation of quality service to protect.
Since those stories, some hopeful homeowners have contacted I-Witness News asking us to help them in getting information from the HLDC about the status of their houses.
“I just need some answers asap,” one such person told I-Witness News Monday night.
“Is my money going down the drain or not? Are they testing the soil where our houses are to be built? How soon is soonest?” one person said, nothing that they started repaying interest on the mortgage four months ago, and the lending institution gave nine months before beginning to withdraw interest and premium from their salaries.
The HLDC said in the Nov. 6 meeting that having to rebuild houses for victims of the Christmas Eve disaster last year has put a strain on their resources.
“What I want to know is when will HLDC call persons who have already paid for land and 1st phase on homes and tell them their plans?
All it (HLDC) says is at soonest possible,” said the persons who asked for anonymity.
“I wish more people in my position can come out so we can demand a meeting,” they told I-Witness News.
This is the arrogance of our public officials who have absolutely no sense of accountability to the public. Heads should be rolling at HLDC for the monumental catastrophe they have created at Clare Valley. This is why we need Freedom of Information legislation. No public officlal should feel entitled to refuse to answer the question that Kenton asked. Influential persons who have a platform ought to be agitating seriously for FOI legislation. It is essential to our so called democracy.
God bless you, Kenton, for your excellent investigative journalism. Hopefully, your work will serve as a signal to the SVG journalistic fraternity that they will have to up their game if they wish to be respected.
The truth shall set you free. Tell people the truth. We are human being and we make mistakes from time to time. Stop keeping people in suspense and bewilderment.
In any other country Mr Phillips would have been fired already, or drag before a committee to answer questions for their deplorable handling of this situation.
But again we are reminded that is is SVG, where as long as your party is in power, then you answer to no one but yourself.
Kenton boy you have my respect. Investigative journalism is something that has never existed in SVG. What we have are borderline note taking that pass for news, it’s time we stand up. And the sad thing is this is not an isolated incident either, it’s a culture in SVG from time. we really need to know how to deal with people, and the bigger position people have in SVG the more disrespectful they get.
I love your unbiased articles. For the first time SVG has a journalist who shows some independence.
First, there was the guy in N.Y. talking about babysitters, now this. How arrogant!!
Comrade spends a lot of money on children’s education, maybe he should do the same for the adults he puts in these senior positions.
Kenton your headline is misleading. Mr. Phillips did not hang up the phone on IWN; never did according to the audio recording. After you asked your question, he stated his position somewhat in disgust, and you said OK and that ended the conversation. So the headline hang up sends the wrong message. More so, you never allowed him to speak, and it appeared that you were trying to shut him up. Nevertheless he did answer your question astutely, whether you or anyone liked it or not.
In my opinion you could have had the right answers, but you got carried away too. You were both at fault.
Mr.Phillip response to Mr.Chance is deplorable to say the least. Mr.Chance, as an investigative news reporter is opening up our eyes. Be that as it may, the culture in SVG have to change. After all, we see the latest happening in the world on TV in SVG. Yes the culture in SVG must change, the way of life must change. Don’t wait until the ARGILE INTERNATIONAL airport opens up. Thank You……
Well done, Kenton.
Phillips response was quintessential ULP Government: contemptuous, hugely rude and slyly threatening. These people know they are untouchable and infallible and will get away with anything. Like what just happened with the ex-Registrar.
It was as if Kenton and IWN were out of place to be asking a troublesome question. They will answer the soft ones, when you ask them.
It was contempt of the same kind the Prime Minister showed when he said that Glen Beache was not in breach of a conflict of interest with his private and public positions with his private […] company: as if we do not know the meaning of conflict, or interest and if we did, cannot put use them together. Like we need him to tell us. Which he didnt. He just said, ipse dixit an unproven assertion resting on the bare authority of some speaker that it wasnt. The sheer high- and heavy-handedness of these people: taking us for stupid all the time.
Conflict of interest is self-explanatory and Phillips is a fresh and out of place uncivil servant even if he isnt supposed to be a servant in the civil service, in the true sense. I dont care which way because it doesnt change anything; one way or the other.
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