No structures in Pine Basin have been removed, ministry says
The Department of Transportation and Public Works (MTW) has categorically refuted allegations that its employees uprooted construction materials and fruit trees from land occupied by a Rastafari family in the Pine Basin in St Michael.
In a statement on Friday, the ministry revealed that it has been cleaning up a stream directly behind the ministry’s headquarters as part of the government’s flood mitigation program for the past two weeks.
The press release said it was necessary to clear “trees and debris” that “obstructed the path of equipment” as they carried out work from the ABC highway behind the water authority headquarters, the Barbados Licensing Authority, behind ministry headquarters and in the nearby playground.
“The operator who worked on the job site said he removed heavy bushes and debris from the stream, including old tires, blue poly pipes and pieces of wood. He added that there were trees in the stream which had to be removed as they were obstructing the path of the equipment, ”the statement said.
“The work is not fully finished because more heavy equipment is needed to remove some trees and debris.
“The operator observed a barricade that had been erected preventing access to the Prince Road Ministry depot. This structure has not been removed. The operator declared that he had to go around the structure to reach the depot, ”added the ministry.
Earlier this week, Charles ‘Ijuijah’ Lashley, who has claimed to have occupied the land for more than 30 years, accused MTW of bulldozing the materials that made up his house as well as dozens of fruit trees.
Lashley, his son Ijuijah Sifahne, his daughter Isartis Ibrie Sirine and their mother Kim Isartis Ibrie Jackman also received support from St Michael East MP Trevor Prescod and many Rastafarian groups.
Prescod, in particular, called for a straightforward explanation from Transport, Public Works and Water Resources Minister Ian Gooding Edghill as well as “redress” for the family.
“No one over the years has indicated that they have been offended by the presence of this family and now all of a sudden a government that has taken a lead on emancipation and reparations is coming to the bottom, absolutely disrespecting the Rasta family, never started a conversation, but sends in a bulldozer to cut down all the trees here and disrupt the whole group, ”argued Prescod.
“You can’t expect Prescod to remain silent on this, and you can’t expect the Rastafarian community to [to be quiet]. Although they may be small, they represent a body of black Barbadians of a working-class nature, ”said the upset MP.
On Friday, many efforts to reach Prescod failed.
At the same time, MTW underscored its commitment to flood mitigation through the clean-up and widening of watercourses and the construction of more than 25 retention ponds.
“The ministry encourages citizens not to place debris in waterways, as this could worsen flooding during heavy rains. The ministry also categorically declares that at no time during the cleaning of the river in question was any structure removed by any of the ministry’s equipment, ”the ministry added. (KS)