Friday, April 19, 2024

Need for vigilance on ‘illegal’ housing projects


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With just under six weeks left in the 2014 Atlantic Hurricane Season, Barbadians can count themselves lucky so far – while perhaps saying a prayer that we complete the season unscathed.

But while it’s okay to look to divine providence in relation to the formation, intensity and movement of weather systems, when it comes to the protection of ourselves and our property, our degree of success is most often determined by our own actions.

One noticeable change on our landscape, which perhaps has been influenced by the desire of so many to be “independent” as well as the financial hard times that have befallen a significant portion of our population, relates to our methods and standards .

Increasingly, poor Barbadians are building or repairing chattel houses using plywood rather than the tradition “siding board”, roofs have become virtually flat with little regard to how they are “bolted” to the main structure, and in too many instances the buildings themselves are not anchored to any substantial foundation. A few concrete blocks at the corners are all that exist.

What is also clear is that because most of these “projects” are undertaken without the permission of the Town & Country Planning Development Office, owners and/or builders are not in the least bit concerned about standards. We are sure no thought is given to the strength of winds the structure is expected to withstand in the event of a tropical storm.

We would hope too that it has not escaped the attention of authorities that we all ought to be concerned not just about the frailty of these structures, but where many of them are being located. It is becoming increasingly fashionable for persons to just “clear off a spot” and start building.

Since we don’t hear of land disputes in many of these cases, it would be fair to conclude that these structures are erected in these locations with the consent of the owners, but when a home is built in a watercourse, it is not just a potential threat to those who intend to dwell there.

Any object that blocks a watercourse has the potential to endanger the lives of others because of the consequential flooding that can occur. Additionally, such construction also places first responders in unnecessary danger since they have to put their own lives at risk at times to effect rescues.

It is therefore incumbent on the relevant authorities, whether it is the Town Planning office, Ministry of Housing and Lands or some other agency, to be proactive in this area to ensure this kind of “development” is not given the chance to take root.

We have developed a reputation over several generations of being a very orderly society and we should not just abandon it now for the sake of not offending a few who believe they have a right to do whatever they want – even if it is on their own land.

And when the offence is committed by a state agency, even if it is done in error, the necessity to undertake corrective action becomes even more acute.




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