Opposition Spokesperson on Housing and Sustainable Living, Senator Dr Floyd Morris, is calling on the Housing Association of Jamaica (HAJ) to act with fairness and good conscience with the residents of the Donaldson Providence Society in St. Thomas.
According to Senator Morris, residents have been living on the land for over 50 years and in the mid-2000, were given tenure of the land by the then Minister of Housing, Donald Buchannon, with legitimate sales agreements in place. He highlighted that the residents have been given favourable payment arrangements by the then People’s National Party (PNP) administration due to the historical and economic conditions confronting residents.
Senator Morris explained, “The residents have been making payments to the HAJ based on the sales agreement. However, due to the sluggish nature of the economy in St. Thomas and the harsh economic circumstances confronting them, they have not been able to complete their payments”. It is, therefore, unfair for the HAJ to give the residents one month’s notice to complete the payments or face the consequence of the revocation of the sales agreement, after which the lands will be revalued and sold on the open market.
The Opposition Spokesperson is encouraging the leadership of the HAJ and the Government of Jamaica (GOJ) to reacquaint themselves with the history of land and shelter in the parish of St. Thomas. He noted that it was the unfair, unjust and inhumane treatment of the people of St. Thomas that caused Paul Bogle and his men to stand up for their rights in that parish. Their quest for justice and fairness led to the Morant Bay Rebellion, and we know of its consequences.
It is incumbent on the current powers that be to ensure that they act in a just and fair manner to these individuals who are victims of circumstances. Senator Dr Floyd Morris is therefore calling for an extension of time for the residents to complete their payments. He is also requesting that, considering the historical links with slavery and that the black population were unfairly treated, the Government write off the outstanding balances for these residents.