THE children of families being relocated to make way for the construction of the Solomon Hochoy Highway extension to Point Fortin will be severely affected, head of the Debe to Penal Action Committee Edward Moodie said yesterday.
Moodie said the children would suffer psychological trauma, as they would have to be transferred to schools near their new homes.
He requested that the Government fast-track development of the relocation sites, to ensure that residents have a permanent home after they move.
“We don’t want the children moving to the temporary location for several months or years and then have to move again when the site is ready,” he said.
Moodie led affected residents from Oropouche, Fyzabad and Debe to the Cedar Hill, Petite Morne and Picton sites, where land is being developed for relocation.
“The question is which school will your children be going to? Will they be going to the same school that they are going to right now and will they be assisted with travelling? Will you transfer your children? Has any thought been done with respect to the psychological effect these transfers will have on your kids...absolutely nothing,” he said.
Moodie, who last week led a protest regarding compensation for dislocated residents, appealed to Minister of Education Dr Tim Gopeesingh to assist the children who require transfers.
“I spoke to (Stacy) Roopnarine (MP for Oropouche West) yesterday and asked her to speak with the Minister of Education to ensure that transfers are done in a speedy manner without a lot of red tape. That might be devastating on your children. We are asking for them to try to get rid of that temporary relocation and move your child and your family, your dogs, your cats, your chicken and ducks to a site where you call your home and start your life over again in best interest of the highway, in best interest of the country’s infrastructure and development,” he said.
Moodie said 80 families were expected to move next week, but development was not completed.
“We recommended that the residents be relocated on the side (of the development) that is almost completed.”
Moodie said a psychologist was hired to assist families with the transition.
He said the legitimate landowners and squatters were ready to move, but required proper facilities for their children.
“The squatters that you see here are people living in the area for about 80 years and over three generations they have built their homes. The sad part is that they were promised by their MP that they would never be moved. They took that for granted and look what is happening now...no documents to show they have rights for these lands so they are in a quandary.”
Moodie said the families would meet to decide whether they were prepared to accept temporary relocation, until the land was developed, or preferred a permanent home.
He would then write the Prime Minister and Government ministers on the residents’ decision.