In last night’s newscast, president of BGYEA Nigel Petillo spoke of investment in the Buffer zone of the community.
However, BGYEA says that standing in their way of development now are new individuals who have recently showed up and are building temporary and permanent structures in the designated buffer zone. David Barnett, executive member of BGYEA, explains the situation
“They ensure that we put in a buffer for safety and all of that. We looked at it; we agreed with it; it made sense for us. The thing right now is that cleaning this buffer, we are still in problem getting down to the settlement at the bottom there that people are in the buffer. So, we cannot…we don’t want to seem to be the bully in this thing; these people have gotten their letters from government, the police and everything that they should have moved back to the land that were given to them; it’s not like you ‘re telling them, ‘just off the land. We have a situation three that 10 houses is on one acre; that 10 house’ could get 10 acres. The land has been left for them. It is not a bully thing going here, but the whole back is that they need to move. We are trying to develop our buffer right now, get this place planted out. We are not the police here; we are not Lands Department; they don’t respect us like that. They need to kick in. A far as I am concerned, they are setting us up to get in some sort of conflict down there with these people. We have been patient, we have been nice, you know, we have hold ourselves together”.
When we got to the said location, BGYEA’s president Nigel Petillo began to dismantle some of the more temporary structures within the designated buffer zone, something the residents say he often does.
Squatter: “That they give us the opportunity of giving us land to be able to do the job and to make a small house where to dwell. He took us to a piece of land, but he does not want to give that land to my name. If he does not want it like that well, he could give it to the name of the Mission, but we do not have the money right now. He does not understand that things are not be done in a hurry; he does not understand that first, we need to dialogue and give chance to the people to get the money to make a house. A house like this cannot be made from night to morning time; it needs money, but he does not understand, that coloured guy does not understand. He is acting like he would be sick. We do understand his point, but he has to give us a chance. What difficulty is for him to give us a chance? It is green area. He is a man that look, all these people are waiting to talk with him because what he is doing right now is anti-social”.
According to BGYEA executives, it has been almost two years since the government has shown any signs of attempting to move the people settling illegally in the buffer. Now, he says, the residents have gone so far as installing current in their vicinity.
David Barnett: “What is happening now, BEL giv dem pipl corrant within the buffer. I don’t know the procedure of how you get current to your place, but I believe you are supposed to have some sort of document saying that this land is yours and that, you know, to let them go and put in something like that. So, now, even that is encouraging people in that community…in the buffer to continue. So, there are most posts going up for people waiting for them fuh get current in that area which is illegal from BEL part; I don’t know how they can do something like that, because trust me, my lee buiscuit name keahn go eean BEL and tell them, oh cohn put wah current fih me ya. As a matter of fact, dehn tel wih al kinda ting; we hav to buy transformer. Yet, dehn do it to da individual down there”.
According to BEL customer service, since December of last year, every house owner that applies for electricity is required to provide proof that he owns the property. According to David Barnett, the government’s indifference is a deliberate act to have them self destruct.
David Barnett: “Another situation, what they did with us is that they had given us this thing already (the 1,300 acres), and now they took away 5 acres of land from a man, Mr. Gordon, and they told us from them that they would reimburse this guy. Instead of reimbursing this guy, what they did was give him back the land. So, the map that we have now, is not the map again. The government has no manners, has no respect, and we feel very, very disrespected for this individual to come to us with this legitimate papers. What do we do about that? Now, this is another poor man, you know? It’s not that we want to take away his land. He is supposed to get what he deserve and he has had this property for almost 30 to 40 years. So, it’s not a fighting thing for us… but have some manners coming, because da prappati deh had already been given out to five other individuals from our community”.
In the meantime, Nigel Petillo and some of his executive members continue to break down new fences inside the buffer zone.