Cancer victim Arlene Nicholas with her children at their home at Cotton Hill Road, Mayo.
The crumbling houses of Mayo
...families living in fear of imminent collapse
Nikita Braxton-Benjamin Express South Bureau
CANCER -STRICKEN mother of four, Arlene Nicholas lives in constant
fear that the house she shares with her four children will soon collapse.
Nicholas and several of her neighbours along Bonne Aventure Road, Mayo,known as Cotton Hill Road, are on the verge of losing their homes.
They blame poor drainage in the area for the land shifting around their house. The residents said while they have tried to rectify the situation on their own, attempts have been unsuccessful.
They have since turned to their Member of Parliament Suruj
Rambachan and councilor for the area, Suresh Pooran Maharaj.
But they told the Express that little help has come, a claim Maharaj has denied.
Nicholas who started chemotherapy last November is the mother of Akila, 14, Alisha,
eight, Akelon, five and Alexia, one.
She said the only work done near her home was three weeks ago when workers from the Ministry of Works Department in the area, placed bamboo and caution tape at an eroded piece of road in-front her house. They then left.
Serene Daniel-Simon, 39 and her two children live next door to Nicholas, her sister. She asked that a drain be constructed to allow for the proper run-off of water in the area. Daniel-Simon said there is also need for a retaining wall to be built.
She said as a result of the rain late last year, the water had nowhere else to flow but onto their property and this caused the land to shift.
The pillars to the back of her house also moved. Daniel-Simon said she has had to create makeshift posts to support her house.
Her neighbour Venora Simon who lost her home in a fire back in 2011 said she is now afraid that she will lose her house again.
"It is really hard to deal with. After my house was burnt, I am trying to catch back myself and now my property is threatened by water," she said.
Widow Aendarwatie Ramlal, 53, who built her concrete home a mere 15 years ago, is now sleeping on a mattress on the ground of a cracked house.
In a bid to save her furniture, Ramlal moved all the items including her bed, from her house to relative's homes. The six-year-old and eight-month-old children who lived in the downstairs part of the house with their mother have since vacated the premises.
Asked if she was afraid that structure may come crashing down at any moment, Ramlal said, "God is with me."
In a bid to save his home, Herman Nelson, 72, has been using his pension cheques toward the construction of a wall at the side of his house. Daniel-Simon said this has not helped.
Around Christmas last year, Mary Caruth had to flee her house after heavy rains threatened her home and also that of her son and grandchild.
They have since had to seek alternative living arrangements with Des
Vignes, 55, staying by neighbours.
She said they were advised to locate a piece of land and assistance will be provided through the government for them to build a house.
She said her son complied and the land was sourced but they are still waiting on the promised help.
Councilor for the area Suresh Pooran Maharaj said he was familiar with all the cases as he had visited the area several times.
He told the Express that the residents' problem did not stem from water running onto their property but rather by "how the land is situated."
"All these matters were reported to the Disaster Management Unit and the officers came and looked at it," Maharaj said.
He said that members of the unit will make the decision on whether
work can proceed after measurements have been taken and an estimated cost for the project is ascertained.
How soon before the project begins will depend on the cost, Maharaj said. He said based on the recommendation from the Disaster Management Unit, the National Self Help Commission may have to step in.
Maharaj said a retaining wall will not feasible for the area and made reference to another residence along the same road, where he said drainage work had been done.
Maharaj also said, "Cotton Hill Road belongs to the Ministry of Works and other roads are controlled by the Regional Corporation." He said the Member of Parliament will have to approach the Ministry of Works.
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