Thu | Sep 20, 2018

Gov't acquires home of Marcus Garvey, promises to compensate owners

Published:Monday | August 20, 2018 | 6:17 PM
The St Ann's Bay birthplace of National Hero Marcus Garvey - File photo

Culture Minister Olivia Grange this afternoon revealed that the Government now has the boyhood home of Marcus Garvey in St Ann’s Bay, St Ann through compulsory acquisition.

Grange said the property is to be used for the proposed living history museum in honour of the National Hero.

The Government and the owners and occupants of the property have been at odds for years.

Noting that there are concerns that the Government would now move to evict the residents, Grange, in a statement, said that the administration will offer houses and cash as compensation.

“I assure the families there, and the rest of Jamaica, that we will not be moving them off the property and leaving them without making other arrangements for them to live in a comfortable way.”

The culture minister stated that the Government has been proposing alternative accommodations to the occupants since 2011 when the former Prime Minister Bruce Golding broke ground for the construction of the museum at the site.

“In 2011 a valuation was done on the property, and based on that valuation funds were identified [to purchase the property].  At that time, there were no owners.  Subsequently, persons were able to get their names on the title — those are the individuals who have been living there.

“We have offered [the occupants] other accommodations.  We have worked with the Housing Agency of Jamaica to identify, on more than one occasion, accommodation for them.  Persons living there have made demands and we have not considered some of those demands to be reasonable.”

Grange argued that the compulsory acquisition of the property follows years of negotiation with the occupants to clear the way for the project which has been stalled since 2011.

“We will relocate the families; and we will work with them to ensure that where they are relocated to, they will be comfortable.  But it cannot continue like this; we must act,” said Grange who added that “the house is deteriorating, the conditions are not good, and it is bad for the image of Marcus Garvey and Jamaica to have the property deteriorate [instead of moving to start the development].”

She said she had been working with the Member of Parliament for North East St Ann Shahine Robinson to find a suitable solution:

“The MP has identified two properties — a three bedroom and a two bedroom — and so will be making the offer [of the two properties] to the families.  So they will be getting properties in exchange [for the Garvey home] and also the funds that have been set aside to pay for Garvey’s boyhood home.  I think we’re being more than reasonable.”

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