Haiti: Hillside Slum Residents Offered Money, Homes, but Demanding More to Move
- Wednesday, June 27, 2012 8:51 AM
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (defend.ht) - "We demand 1 million gourde ($24,000 [US]) for each home, if not, we cut heads and burn houses," said a protest leader on Monday demanding more compensation from the government for families to move out of shanties built on Haiti's metropolitan hillside.
Hundreds of residents of the hillside shantytown in Port-au-Prince made news this week with a street protest. 1 million HTG ($24,000 US) a piece to leave their shanties they demand, an amount the Haitian government is not prepared to pay.
"They must repair us normally. They must give 1 million gourde so that the people can leave..."
"For every home, 1 million gourde, if not, cut heads, burn homes. We not playing with anyone."
"You see the mayor of the commune is supporting the movement with Minustah, he says he is indifferent, he has washed his hands."
"For us we say to the Mayor of Petionville, we are going to burn city hall, we will burn Martelly's house. It's me that said this."
"Me, here are my eyes, you know them, I am not scared of anything... **** in the ***." - Speaker at Protest
The government says it is incapable of meeting those demands.
"Impossible", said the Secretary of State of the Environment, Pierre Andre Gedeon speaking on Magik Radio 9 on Tuesday morning.
"Only 250 million HTG ($6 million [US]) are planned under this project. Money is available in an account at the BNC (National Credit Bank)" Gedeon explained.
Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe confirmed that the construction of drainage channels on the hillside, where the slum is located, is part of the 16-6 Neighborhood Creation and Revitalization Project that began in 2011 with the aims of creating 6 new residential areas and rehabilitating 16 others.
The families, 450 of them, affected by the project taking place on morn l'Hopital, will receive a years worth of rent in neighborhoods already designated for them to move to, said Lamothe.
The amount of $50/month coincides with the subsidized housing that the program creates. The homes will be available in the towns of Bercy and Gressier, south Port-au-Prince.
Government Holds to Safety as the Priority
Pierre Andre Gedeon, who first announced the measures against homes and construction on Morn Lopital said the hillside is where drainage channels will be constructed.
Gedeon said that the hills are the source of dangerous floods throughout Port-au-Prince when it rains. In the case of severe showers, floods have become mudslides, destroyed homes and carried vehicles away.
Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe added a clarification to his government's actions saying that homes on the hillside were illegally built, without construction papers, in an area that was already restricted.
Lamothe said "we are taking some measures to protect lives and ultimately Port-au-Prince from a major catastrophe." He said the tenants in the area, who are without proper documents, put themselves and other city residents in danger.
"We can't allow people to endanger their lives in slums that can collapse at any moment," said the Minister of Human Rights and Fight Against Extreme Poverty, Rose-Anne Auguste, who, too, believes there is a problem of housing but a more fatal risk for residents on the hillsides.
"We realize there is a dire problem posed by housing in our country. We are going to offer new homes to the displaced families," Minister Auguste said, also noting that the government had long banned these constructions.
The hillsides have become home to many of the 3 million residents of Port-au-Prince.
Constructed in concrete, these homes offer no structural soundness against large earthquakes, mudslides and other natural disasters, the hillsides have been the scene of tragedies after severe weather.
Source: Le Nouvelliste