High-rise fears

In the wake of this week’s stabbing incident, which occurred in Government’s high-rise apartment building at Valery in Brittons Hill, St Michael, tenants in a similar housing development are raising concerns about security.

When a Barbados TODAY team visited Country Park Towers in Country Road, St Michael, today, they were greeted with complaints from several tenants, who said the main entrances to the four-storey building were often left open by other residents, exposing them to burglary, physical violence, and even death.

They are therefore calling on the management of the National Housing Corporation (NHC) to install more secure doors at the main entrances to the housing compound, in addition to dealing with the issue of inadequate lighting in the stairwells, landings and around the perimeter of the housing estate.

“Sometimes when you pull the door at the main entrance at 1 a.m., it is left open,” complained Alwyn Derrick, who lives on Block 3.

“I believe that a main door should be installed that locks automatically when it is released by anyone entering the building,” he explained, while pointing out that there was a street light to the left of his block that had not been working for nearly two years.

“In spite of many complaints, no action has been taken,” Derrick added.

Against the backdrop of Monday’s attack at Valery, in which 48-year-old Cherral Springer and her 23-year-old daughter Jalisa Springer were were reportedly stabbed by a young man, known to both individuals, Derrick has also called for the fencing of the compound to be raised about eight feet to keep out intruders.

The compound of Country Park Towers in Country Road, St Michael, thrown into darkness at nightfall.
The compound of Country Park Towers in Country Road, St Michael, thrown into darkness at nightfall.

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Mark Reid, who has been living at Country Park Towers since September, 2011, said initially conditions in the housing units were fine, but he reported that in recent times some tenants had become very abusive when asked to keep the main door closed.

“I have resigned myself to live and let live. I live on the fourth floor in Block 2 and therefore any intruder would have to kill many people before they reach me,” he told Barbados TODAY.

“You know it takes all kinds of people to make up the world, and all kinds of people live in these units. The NHC instructed tenants that no laundry should be exposed on the balconies of the units, yet tenants continue to engage in this practice,” he pointed out.

Also noting the habit by some tenants of hanging laundry in the balconies of the units, another resident said the practice was not only unsightly, but in breach of the contract governing rental.

Laundry put out to dry in this balcony at Country Park Towers –– an eyesore to some of the residents there.
Laundry put out to dry in this balcony at Country Park Towers –– an eyesore to some of the residents there.

Another, who requested anonymity, contended that the NHC had started “on the wrong foot” when it did not undertake a proper screening of prospective tenants. The tenant, who is employed by Government, further questioned the decision taken by NHC officials to allocate housing units to persons who did not show any evidence of gainful employment.

“We want proper security, but we must be fair to the NHC. If tenants are not paying their rent, how do you expect the NHC to provide proper security?” he asked.

“If you are visiting a tenant, he should be the only one able to give you access to the building, either by a buzzing system or a code system,” he continued, arguing that “it only takes an incident like the one at Valery on Monday to recognize the need for proper security”.

Stressing the need for proper lighting, he said: “The area is pitch-black at night.”

One of the broken security lights on Country Park high-rise apartments.
One of the broken security lights on Country Park high-rise apartments.

When contacted today, Minister of Housing and Lands Denis Kellman said he had spoken to management about security
at Valery and at the Country Road housing compound.

“There is security in place at Country Park, but tenants need to protect themselves,” the Government official said.

He also argued that the current problems being experienced by the tenants had nothing nothing to do with the quality
of the entrances, but said “tenants need to stop being so slack”.

“They must not leave the doors open to give easy access to intruders,” Kellman added.

Addressing the issue of hanging laundry on the balconies of the units, Kellman gave tenants the assurance that the NHC was seeking to provide a solution to the problem.

nevilleclarke@barbadostoday.bb

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