Wednesday 27th December, 2006

 

Govt knocks down Fort George home

 
 
 
 
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BY CAROL MATROO

Members of the Fort George Safety and Enhancement Group yesterday staged a silent protest at the corner of St James Terrace and Fort George Road. The protest was organised in support of Quintin Padia, who claimed he was forcefully thrown off one acre of land at Fort George in St James which he has occupied for more than 30 years.

“I living in Fort George since in the ’50s, but I start living on the land about 28 years ago,” Padia said.

“This place was a garbage dump...I started to clean it up and plant fruit trees on the hill to preserve the land,” Padia said.

He said he was stunned last week when two vehicles with heavily-armed police and army officers arrived at his home.

“They just break down my house...I know is not my land, but look how long I living here,” he said.

Padia’s problems began in September last year when Housing Minister Keith Rowley and Port-of-Spain mayor Murchison Brown launched construction of the Vieux Fort apartment development scheme.

“They want to send me Duncan Street to live, but I don’t want to live there.

“My children grow up here and they accustomed to walking free. I have this place looking like this…Me and my (weed) whacker,” he said.

Padia said he had his Deed of Comfort approved and that the land was within the Squatter Regularisation Area.

However, he was told that the property was owned by the City Corporation and not the Land Settlement Agency as he previously thought.

Padia said there has been no suggestion of compensation for his losses.

“I am 53 years old, what am I supposed to do now?” Padia said.

Member of the Fort George Safety and Enhancement Group Steve Cupid Theodore described Padia as the “kindest, most generous man.”

He said due to the Housing Development Corporation’s “radical bulldozing,” the land was already collapsing, and would be made worse by erosion and flooding.

“Since December 15, the HDC bulldozer began clearing Fort George Hill...If it wasn’t for the residents they would have removed every last tree.”

A small piece of land at the corner of St James Terrace and Fort George Road bore the sign Quintin Padia Gardens, a testimonial to Padia’s commitment to preserving the land.

“The residents here are willing to risk life and limb for this land. We are prepared to stand before any chainsaw or bulldozer to defend our homes,” Theodore said.

He said they are seeking meetings with Public Utilities Minister Pennelope Beckles, chief executive officer at the HDC Noel Garcia, Rowley and Planning and Development Minister Camille Robinson-Regis.

©2005-2006 Trinidad Publishing Company Limited

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