Residents of Harris Village in South Oropouche were left in disbelief, tears and anger as a private landowner demolished ten houses, leaving scores of people homeless yesterday.
Land owner Robert Partap, accompanied by private security and over a dozen police officers moved into Lezama and Ralph Narine Traces around 6 am, along with two backhoes and an excavator. Within an hour, ten houses were dismantled.
Among those left homeless were the families of Richard Nelson, Terrence Bissoon, Glen Williams, and Stacy Ramjattan. Nelson said he was at work when his wife, Nikita Gomes, called him frantically saying they were about to break their house.
“I have five children. My baby was bawling when I got there. These people never showed me any eviction notice,” Nelson said. Bissoon said he asked the Partaps to bring their documents to show the land ownership but this never happened.
Around 8:30 am, when the team went to the home of Terrence Ramjattan, they were presented with a large cadastral map. Ramjattan said the Partaps owned Belle Vue Estate but not Providence Estate where his house was built.
“I have my map here and they are in the wrong area. They do not own this land,” Ramjattan insisted. Eventually the Partaps backed off with their entourage.
Asked whether he intended to hold his hand on the eviction Partap said, “Ma’am, you need to get a map for yourself and read it.” He said only squatters who were occupying land illegally without paying a rent will be evicted.
Councillor for Avocat/Fyzabad Doodnath Mayrhoo, who visited the affected residents, called on the Partaps to hold their hand on the eviction.
“During these tough economic times, I am begging the Partaps to show some humanity for these people,” Mayrhoo said. He called for a meeting with the Partaps to discuss the issues of land ownership.
It has been more than two decades that villagers of Belle Vue estates in Oropouche have been facing eviction from the Partap family. The family owns the Belle Vue Estate, which comprises 1,100 acres of land. Fyzabad MP Dr Lackram Bodoe is expected to meet with the affected families.