The government will not connect the squatter settlement at Pole Yard, Arnos Vale to the national grid, Minister of Housing and Informal Human Settlement, Montgomery Daniel told Parliament on Thursday.
He was at the time responding to a question by Senator Kay Bacchus-Baptiste, who has been identified as the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP’s) candidate for West St. George, where Pole Yard is located.
“Unbelievably, the residents at Pole Yard in the year 2019 do not have electricity. Will the Hon. Minister please say when the Government plans to put electricity there notwithstanding the residents may be relocated in the future?”
In his response, Daniel, who is also Minister of Land and Surveys, and Physical Planning, said, “Unbelievably but true, when this question was placed to the public servants in my ministry for the requisite answer, they were not even sure of the area referenced.
“Mr. Speaker, they came to the realisation that Pole Yard — P-o-l-e , which is along the Rarararou River in the constituency of West St. George, they believe that was the area that was focused and this is the answer that was provided,” he said.
On the order paper, the name of the area, which got its name from the electricity poles that were stored there, was spelt “Poll”.
Daniel told Parliament Pole Yard is an informal settlement that has evolved over many years.
He said that the Ministry of Housing, through the physical planning unit, has made several interventions over the years to control further expansion of the settlement.
“It is identified that because the settlement was very close to the airport, that it would not be expanded,” he said, referring to the E.T. Joshua Airport, which was decommissioned in February 2017.
He said that Pole Yard and the area near to the old airport is low-lying, “and is even threatened by the nearby river, making the area even more vulnerable to heavy rainfall”.
Presently, remedial work is being done to accommodate the proposed new urban development for that area, the minister said.
“So, unfortunately, Pole Yard will not be part of the new development and the residents will not be getting any lights. The residents will be relocated and in light of all those factors, it is not practical to give electricity to the area at this time. When these families are relocated they will have the benefits of all these amenities.”
The government had identified the land at the old airport site for the development of a new city.
In a supplementary question, Bacchus-Baptiste asked Daniel by what time he hopes to relocate the residents, Daniel said Pole Yard is not a new establishment and is very close to where electricity is being generated in the country and has never had electricity.
He said that his Unity Labour Party government, which came to office in 2001, established a ministry to help to control those types of settlements.
“And so where Pole Yard is today, they will be relocated and the government will not facilitate any electricity connections in the area.”
The minister said he has no idea when the relocation will take place because the developments are taking place with the new proposed sites.
These squatter settlements are common all over the world and are a direct result of three main sets of factors:
1. One of these is not acute poverty, as many people would wrongly claim, but rather high unemployment and underemployment, low wages, and low overall incomes.
2. Population growth due to lower infant mortality and higher life expectancy, both due to better medical treatment and a higher standard of living because of national economic growth.
3. Smaller household size also the result of greater income levels which allow adult family members (who were forced to remain at home for economic survival reasons in earlier decades) to leave home and form households of their own.
Two of these set of factors, the first and third, neither of them related to acute or chronic poverty but to their reverse, have encouraged communities like Pole Yard to be formed.
As for the second factor — population growth — high out-migration from our country due to the dearth of economic opportunities has kept our numbers at around 110,000 for many years.
C. Ben, your reasoning makes no sense at all. You say the settlement is not because of poverty but due to lack of jobs and such related. I always thought that poverty can come from not having employment over a lengthy period, meaning little or no money which we call POVERTY. Of course wages in SVG are much higher than in other developing countries, BUT DON’T LET THIS FOOL YOU! the problem in that respect is that the cost of everything in SVG is much higher than other developing countries. I know for a fact that many of the under-paid in SVG are paid 20-times more than those with the same jobs in much of Africa and South America, it is just everything costs much more in SVG.
Population growth? You even contradict yourself on this one so I will not respond. You should have instead just mentioned the real reasons for this settlement: These people squat because they cannot or will not live in a place that they have to pay or pay much more. They want the land to eventually be thiers at no cost. Any relocation is going to cost them so they will not want to move. They stay there because the government has never kicked them off because it could lose votes. The place has flourished because these people are able to get away with it so more and more they have become emboldened.
Good points, some of them, but individual unemployment does not necessarily mean household poverty if other members have jobs or other income.
Almost every adult Vincentian wants a house of his/her own, an unattainable ambition even in many rich countries where most adults live in their parental home or in rental accommodations but which is partially realized by squatting in our country because governments turn a blind eye to it and because slack building codes allow the construction of shacks as human habitation.
No issue of hostile possession with with respect to crown lands,there No one can claim title to pole yard lands. According, the government cannot connect the electricity.
A house and house spot are not human rights; they are human responsibilities.
The absence of access to electricity and/or water in informal settlements are not a denial of human rights; they are founded on human choices to live in such settlements.
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