Fate of Albion residents unsure
Barrington Flemming, Gleaner Writer
The fate of 18 families, displaced when the Government demolished 48 wooden shacks at Albion in Montego Bay, St James, is uncertain as Dr Morais Guy, the minister of housing, is yet to announce a solution.
The 18 families, who are part of the original 48 families housed at what was formerly called 'Tenement' at Albion, were to be housed in 18 new units constructed under phase two of the Albion Mews Project. Thirty families were housed in new housing units under phase one of that project.
Lloyd B Smith, the member of parliament for Central St James, who recently assumed responsibility for the project, told The Gleaner that following complaints by the families that the price of the new units was too high and that they could not afford to pay the mortgage, a meeting was held with Dr Guy. However, since then, the situation has been stagnant.
"Minister Guy met with the families sometime in early March, following the completion of phase two, and the residents complained that the price was too much for them as they were not in a position to meet the monthly mortgage payment," Smith said. "I have had dialogue with him (Guy). He says he is dealing with it so we are still awaiting a response from him as to what the people are to do."
The price of the new units range from J$2 million to J$3.6 million.
Smith also noted that some construction faults in phase one of the project were highlighted in the presence of Guy. Those faults are yet to be rectified.
"There are some sections of the units that leak profusely when it rains," said Smith. "So, some of the residents cannot gain ready access to the premises. These things also need to be looked into seriously."
The J$89 million project was initiated by Dr Horace Chang, who was the minister of housing, and member of parliament for the area at the time the 48 shacks, which were built in 1951, were demolished.
The shacks were constructed as temporary shelters to house families who were displaced following the passage of Hurricane Charlie. A decision was subsequently taken that they should be replaced with modern, one-, two- and three-bedroom units.
Dr Chang, who relinquished responsibility for the project to Smith after the realignment of constituency boundaries placed the project in the St James Central constituency, said he still maintained avid interest in the project, but could not do much to assist.