In fear for their lives, residents of Pole Yard, located between one side of the runway of the decommissioned E.T Joshua Airport and a river, have made a desperate plea for street lamps to be installed in their community after the most recent crime there. Two residents were shot, on Monday, April 10 around 7.30 p.m while sitting on a bench outside a shop operated by Jomo “Top Dog” Brudy. Brudy died one day later in hospital and the other, John “Dan Dada” Dallaway, survived.
Dallaway who got caught in the cross fire between the masked killer and Brudy was struck by a stray bullet, but was left in grief as his friend Brudy, succumbed to his wounds on Tuesday, April 11.
“I’m in pain and don’t feel good about what happened…way me go do, wrong place at the wrong time,” Dallaway had told SEARCHLIGHT. Another resident said that was the fourth shooting in the small community and because of the absence of street lamps, “people just dying and we don’t know who killing them. We can’t see anybody” and they were “begging” the Prime Minister to remedy the situation.
The absence of streets lamps in Pole Yard was drawn to the attention of Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves during a radio programme on Sunday, April 16.
Gonsalves said that the problem should be rectified but there have been some difficulties in locating an area to relocate the residents.
“…But in fairness to Vinlec is that – well, I think they were saying well listen, they didn’t want to do the investment there because we are moving them, moving the persons there… and… the chiefs are there still looking for land. There are one or two places…I thought we’re going to get a piece in the West St. George area to put a significant number and then they said, well there’s some problems with the drainage, and so we are looking at different places. That’s the reality, but I intend for it to be done and I want to see it being done,” Gonsalves said in response.
He added that there is no environmental issue here that requires moving residents of Pole Yard in order to build the Acute Referral Hospital.
“We want for the whole area which we are developing there to put those houses elsewhere because of the way we are developing the city with the hospital as an anchor project and I heard you all commenting very favourably about the kinds of activities which are taking place around is very low business activities of all different kinds, and the hospital would add the $200 million…in that regard.
However, despite the crime that has been plaguing Pole Yard over the past years, Prime Minister Gonsalves said that there is only a small minority of persons in the area who are creating difficulties for the law as the vast majority of residents are hard working people.
“People of discipline, people with children going to Grammar School, High School, other Secondary Schools and so on and so forth. The thing is this, we are not able to find one parcel of land where we are going to be able to put all the houses…we have to do different communities. That’s how we have to do it. Remember a lot of people from Pole Yard come from all about. Some come from my constituency,” Gonsalves pointed out.
He said that the majority of residents in Pole Yard are good people and they should not be stigmatised the same way that some people try to do with Rose Place and Paul’s Avenue.
“Persons who do that are entirely wrong. It’s only a tiny minority of persons. As in all communities you will have a tiny minority of people who…may give a particular bad name to a particular area and it’s wrong, and we have to start to look at real flesh and blood people, working people who seeking to make better lives for themselves and their families. And this is why from the very beginning, we never conceptualize persons like these as squatters, that was what they used to be called. They are informal human settlements with emphasis on humans. That is the way that we have dealt with issues.”
Gonsalves said as well that his ear is attentive to wisdom and his heart to understanding when approaching the situation.