Thursday, January 18, 2018

Residents threaten HDC workers’ lives

...vandalise buildings after refused jobs


ANGRY GRAFFITI: The graffiti-covered façade of the HDC building yesterday at Annabelle Avenue, Couva. (The expletives were digitally blurred). —Photo: TREVOR WATSON

Mark Fraser

HOUSING Development Corporation (HDC) workers and contractors were threatened and chased out of a community in Couva yesterday, as some residents demanded jobs to refurbish apartment buildings.

The angry residents torched scaffolding, vandalised buildings and slapped graffiti on the walls. And when they were refused jobs, the residents painted a “kill list” on one of the apartment buildings. The names included contractors and workers on the project.

The apartment buildings are located at Annabelle Street, Ibis Gardens, Couva, near the home of six-year-old Jennifer Joseph, who was grazed by a bullet while playing in her front yard last week Saturday.

HDC corporate communications and consultant manager Maurisa Findlay said Guard and Emergency Branch officers were hired to protect contractors and their workers.

“We have residents who are saying that contractors can’t come into the area to do work without hiring them...this is absolutely irrational. The contractor is at liberty to hire staff from within the community or to bring his team of workers with him. They have guidelines on how to do the job and we have an entire project and safety unit which comes in to access the job. So if it is not done well it has to be done to our standard, whatever it takes,” she said.

Findlay said the contractors were hired as part of HDC’s Maintenance and Refurbishment Programme. She said advertisements were placed in the newspapers and contractors were invited to submit tenders for the job. 

But the residents argued that they should have been hired to repaint and refurbish the buildings, she said.

 They began vandalising the buildings and defacing the walls on Wednesday night.

“Apparently some residents came together and have defaced a lot of the buildings that have been repainted on Annabelle Street and other parts of the community. We have had to hire Guard and Emergency police at elaborate daily costs to be able to guard the contractors and any other HDC property that might have been on site,” she said.

Findlay said the residents have threatened the contractors and issued a warning for them to stay away from the buildings.

“Today we wanted to highlight the fact that we are not accepting any level of intimidation. The community came out and they are saying they need jobs and we are saying, of course you need jobs and you must go out there and find jobs. If you want to work with the HDC you have to comply with the process,” she said.

Findlay said the contractors were instructed to remove the graffiti and repaint the buildings.

She said HDC was responsible for the management of the apartment buildings.