Thursday, February 22, 2018

Several quizzed, but no arrests made

HDC buildings vandalised, workers threatened

POLICE have interviewed several people in connection with death threats to Housing Development Corporation (HDC) contractors and workers hired to refurbish apartment buildings in Couva.

Investigators said no one was arrested for vandalising the buildings, greasing scaffolding and threatening to shoot the contractors. The threats began after several young men in the community were refused employment with the contractors.

Police said the workers were chased off the project and a “kill list” was painted on the wall of one of the buildings. Guard and Emergency Branch officers have been guarding workers since last Thursday.

HDC corporate communications and consultant manager Maurisa Findlay said the acts of vandalism began on Wednesday night. 

“There were no additional acts of vandalism (Monday). But there is an added cost to the contractor, who has to buy heavy-duty grease cleaners to be able to clean up the oil on the scaffolds. So while the work has slowed down, we are continuing to move ahead,” she said.

Findlay said 52 three-storey buildings were being repainted at Lisas Gardens, Couva. “But the vandalism has been taking place along three streets, including Annabelle Street. They are actually concentrating on a specific area where there are a lot of young guys who feel disenfranchised. It is not the entire community, but it is enough to signal poor behaviour,” she said.

Findlay said a contractor from the community was hired for the project and several residents were employed to repaint the buildings. 

“Some of the buildings that the contractor is working on were also defaced. There are residents wor­king on the project, there is a feeling that the entire project should have gone to members of the community,” she said.

Findlay said the project was advertised and contractors were invited to tender for the jobs. “There is a process by which we can hire a contractor and the residents need to understand that,” she said.

Several of the buildings at Lisas Gardens were slapped with graffiti, and scaffoldings were greased with oil and torched.

A sub-contractor, who asked not to be named, said he was disappointed in the actions by residents. 

“I live in this area and I was hired on the project. I hired several people for jobs. We were not satisfied with the pay and we spoke with HDC. The pay was increased. I don’t know why this group of people are disgracing our community,” he said.