OPPOSITION LEADER Dr Keith Rowley was yesterday criticised by Diego Martin residents for not doing more to help following last month's heavy rains and flooding.
Speaking at an impromptu meeting held at St Michael's Parish Hall, Wendy Fitzwilliam Boulevard, Diamond Vale—where close to 100 residents turned up to express their frustrations at the treatment bestowed upon them—one resident claimed Rowley, who is MP for Diego Martin West, was not bothering because his house was fine.
"Nothing happen to his house, you know...so that is why he not bothering to do anything," exclaimed Bernice Smith.
Earlier Smith had argued that if the Government had fulfilled its promise to fix the problems following the last set of heavy rain in 2011—such as clearing the drains, creating retaining walls and dredging the river—the residents would not be in this situation today.
"People would not have to be running from pillar to post asking for help because the Government is not helping...and quite frankly I think the Muslim community did more than the UNC (United National Congress)," she said.
Another man called on Rowley to tell them what the next step was as they had no idea where to go.
"Rowley, what are you going to do, what is the next step, how are you going to help the residents?" he asked.
Defending himself against the accusations, Rowley said he was just a parliamentary representative and does not have the resources to help the residents.
"My office does not get money so I cannot treat with your issues...the things you are asking for will require funding," he said.
Speaking to the media, Rowley further explained: "I am the representative, I can represent and I am representing. If people need money to build a wall...there is nothing I as the MP can do but represent their condition to the Government so if the people look to me to put my hand in my pocket to fund those systems I can't.
"That is not my responsibility; my responsibility is to make sure that their interest is represented to the State," he said.
Rowley added that the Government has the resources to help the residents but has chosen not to do anything and is using public relations "to make you think that everything is all right".
Asked about the criteria being used by the Government to decide who received assistance, the MP said it made no sense under these circumstances.
"There exists in the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) an ongoing programme where persons get a housing grant if they qualify to improve their housing condition, but there are a number of conditions that go with that particular grant. And the Government is trying to use that grant to treat with the emergency that is taking place now and you are finding that persons who need help are not meeting the criteria of that particular grant, which is why I am saying if the Government genuinely wants to help these people, it will make a separate arrangement so that the restrictions of that grant will not exclude them from getting help," he said.
Meanwhile, residents at the Diego Martin relief shelter have become agitated following a meeting on Wednesday with HDC representatives who told them that they did not qualify for relocation.
"HDC told us that we had three options, either we go back to our home because some of the houses are still okay, or we go elsewhere or we stay at the shelter indefinitely," said Sarah Foster.
According to Foster, HDC visited the homes of the people staying in the shelter and subsequently told them that the structures were safe.
However, Samantha Silva, a Maraval resident staying at the shelter, said she was previously told that her home was unfit to live in and was befuddled as to why they were refusing to help relocate her or offer some kind of financial assistance.
Silva added that while chairman of the Diego Martin Regional Corporation, Anthony Sammy, was doing his best to make them comfortable, they did not want that.
"I don't want to be comfortable in a shelter, I want to be comfortable in my house and all I am asking is that the Government does something to help me," she said.