RESIDENTS of the historic town of Port Royal are concerned that despite their outcry several months ago, the squatter community that has sprung up there earlier this year is continuing to grow at a rapid pace.
In April the residents expressed grave concern that their once sleepy fishing village was being transformed into a den of thieves and runaways who were hell-bent on destroying the peaceful, almost crime-free record of Port Royal, a town in which most persons were either related or whose families have inhabited the area for decades.
Just recently a number of robberies have occurred on the beach.
“The robberies are increasing. Cars are being stolen more often and criminality is on the rise,” one resident said.
One couple, who originated in the town but spent a number of years abroad before returning, said their lives are being made hell by the new residents.
The couple was adamant that a shanty that was being built very close to the residential area would not be allowed to be erected. They said, though, that they are facing the wrath of the squatters for their principled stance.
“It is not right. They have been throwing bags of faeces on our lawn and have threatened me because I hit out against them. This town has been peaceful for too long and with all our cries we feel ignored by our political representatives who seem content not to act until somebody gets seriously hurt or killed,” the male half of the couple said.
He said the squatters have threatened to burn down his house as well.
“It’s gotten really out of hand. The town is gone. We need the police to really do their jobs. There are underage girls getting pregnant and nothing is being done about that,’ he said.
The squatters are reportedly refugees from sections of West Kingston, Rockfort, Mountain View Avenue, Southside and other crime-infested communities in the Corporate Area.
And they have brought the ways of the garrisons they once occupied with them.
The squatters have constructed houses in the mangroves close to the Caribbean Sea, and in areas known as Park Heights, Park Flats and Michelin Avenue.
The houses that are built in the mangroves are cause for great concern as there are no sanitary conveniences and the residents fear that the human waste generated by the growing community is being disposed of in the sea.
The mangroves, essential storm breakers in times of hurricanes and storms, are being decimated, which could cause serious environmental damage.
According to vice-president of the Port Royal Citizens’ Association Derrick Powell, the threat of criminality taking over is real and the residents are becoming more and more despondent.
“We feel forgotten. Look at the history of this town. Are the authorities just going to sit back and allow it to deteriorate? You can see some of them (the squatters) going to the police station with exercise books. They are reporting on condition of bail. We need help and we need it now,” he said.
But Powell has other burning concerns.
The recent lease of the old Admiralty House, two buildings adjacent to old parade square — which was once the police academy — and the football field to the Jamaica Maritime Institute, has been a bitter pill to swallow, especially since the residents were not included in the decision-making process but only have to stand and wonder what is happening in their beloved community.
They are incensed that they are being ignored by their political representatives as development plans are soon to get underway.
The football field is the only recreational area available to the residents.
Powell said the lease of the building will mean that the town’s health centre, basic school and community centre will no longer be available to the residents.
This means they will have to travel miles to Kingston to access health care and early childhood education for their children.
“We are not against development, but nobody is saying anything. We just see stuff happening. We have been ordered to vacate the health centre and basic school. We feel like our political representatives have no regard for us as they only come here when its their birthday or they have a function. They come to Fort Charles. Nobody does anything for Port Royalists,” he said.