Saturday, May 25, 2019
HomeHomeShantytown residents in limbo

Shantytown residents in limbo

The view from the front door of Mercurial Gorges’ home, located off Cowpen Road in a small shantytown, was one of disarray yesterday.

A sofa obstructed the doorway, where an old jacket was being used as a mat. An entertainment stand, packed with various items, blocked the view into the kitchen area and few things appeared to be where they should.

Deeper inside the home, however, there was a different story.

Gorges had saved money and begun building a two-bedroom house, complete with indoor plumbing and wired for electricity to be supplied by a generator.

“I don’t like shantytowns either,” the mother of three said, as she presented the progress proudly.

“I want to sleep good and live comfortably.”

The new bathroom and bedrooms were nearly finished, but Gorges said she stopped the work last year when the government announced that shantytowns will be demolished.

The government gave residents of most shantytowns on New Providence until August 10 to leave before demolition begins.

In August, Supreme Court Justice Cheryl Grant-Thompson granted an injunction blocking the demolition of shantytown structures.

Residents have been in a state of limbo since then.

In the community, there is construction, which one resident claimed is new. This seems to indicate some optimism among the residents.

However, Gorges and her daughter, Sabrina Nornord, do not seem to be feeling it.

Nornord, who is 18, completed high school last June and has been working since October. At the moment, she is the only person in her household with a stable job.

Commenting on her family’s life since the injunction, she said, “When you don’t know what’s going on, you’re always on edge.

“You’re always trying to be careful about what you do and what you invest in.

“You don’t want to do too much and then come to find out it’s not worth it, and you regret it, and you think about all the money you put into it just for it to be taken away.”

She said, “We don’t plan on being here too long, but while we’re here, we do what we can.”

Recalling her initial reaction to the planned demolitions, Nornord said, “When we first heard about it, I was a bit scared.”

She is still afraid.

“The fear of waking up one morning and not having a home or somewhere to stay was in our heads for the past year,” she said.

“When they said that there was a hold on it, they were taking it to court, that was like a little breath of relief.”

There have been no significant developments in the shantytown court case. It is unclear what the outcome will be, and the possibility of demolition remains on the minds of many residents.

When asked whether she feels confident that she and her mother could find another place to stay, Nornord said, “I’m putting in my all just in case something like that does happen.”

She added, “Whatever happens, happens… I just do what they tell me to do, and I hope for the best.”

Michel Paul, who has lived in the shantytown for 24 years, is also worried about what would happen if the government wins its case.

“The money I made, I spent that on my place,” he said.

Paul, who says he can no longer work because he hurt his arm, is not sure what he would do if he has to leave his home.

He said, “I am worried, yes.”

“I don’t know where I will go.”

Rachel Knowles

Staff Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Rachel joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2019. Rachel covers national issues.
Education: Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish
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