By Carlena Knight
The Booby Alley community is expected to be fully cleared of all the remaining houses within the next 60 days.
April 2021 was the last timeline set for when the relocation of families would be completed, but due to undisclosed circumstances that has again been delayed.
Prime Minister Gaston Browne, who is also the area’s MP, gave a brief update concerning the new timeline while speaking at the opening ceremony for the Villa Polyclinic on Thursday.
“My understanding is that the project is advancing. We would have given an undertaking that we will have the area cleared shortly so that we could construct resilient housing for the people of Point, most of whom we have relocated already, and we hope to have the area cleared in a matter of 60 days,” Browne said.
An exact date for when work will commence on the permanent homes – to replace the inadequate existing structures – has not yet been disclosed, but officials estimate the properties will take two years to construct.
The housing project – being funded by China – has been beset by delays over the years with the most prominent being the relocation of the residents in the Point area.
“The Chinese government has indicated that all the residents must be moved and the area made vacant before any work, whether soil sampling or measurements, can begin,” PM Browne said.
The relocation stage is a major part of the redevelopment plan which will see the structural and environmental rehabilitation of Booby Alley, where 150 new houses will be built thanks to a grant from the Chinese government.
In 2019, Booby Alley residents protested the project amid fears they were going to be displaced from their homes, but after a number of meetings with Prime Minister Browne, the conflict was resolved.
Last year, temporary homes were constructed in Villa to house some of the Booby Alley residents while others have been placed in private buildings or have had their homes which were in good repair moved to vacant lots.
In October 2018, the government accepted a grant from China to construct 250 homes in total.
A further 50 will be in Bolans and 50 in Barbuda.
Only the buildings which house Papasita Destin’s supermarket and the Bethel Anglican Church will remain.
The area to be redeveloped encompasses North Street to St John’s Street on Wilkinson’s Cross; west on St John’s Street to Mariner’s Lane; south on Mariner’s Lane to North Street; and east on North Street to Wilkinson’s Cross.