The National Office of Disaster Services (NODS) ramped up efforts to regularise occupation of the old Barrymore Hotel by Barbudans and Antiguans – some of whom have been living there for as long as 10 years.
Yesterday, members of the Public Works Department assisted by members of the Royal Police Force of Antigua and Barbuda, overseen by NODS, changed the locks of 19 doors.
A well-placed source said the operation which started at approximately 9 a.m. went smoothly with the residents cooperating.
“Apart from the one or two young people that want to live on their own that would have initially had some objections we were able to carry out the mandate without incident. It is not an eviction of any sort, we just want to encourage those with family members here to come together and cohabitate,” the source said.
OBSERVER media was contacted by persons who claimed that the police were forcibly removing the occupants of the compound and changing locks and boarding up and securing other areas.
When our news team arrived at the Fort Road premises a team was knocking on doors and checking to see if the small individual rooms still had occupants. The keys of the new locks were being handed over while nails were being hammered into boards to secure areas designated as doors and windows.
In a media release, NODS said it intensified efforts to vacate rooms at the Barrymore Hotel that have been occupied.
It said that personnel from NODS, the Public Works Department and the Police visited the hotel “this morning” [yesterday morning] to ensure that individuals living on the western and southern sides of the property vacate the areas.
“They have the option to move to other areas on the compound that have been left vacant or move off the compound, which some will be doing. A few people have heeded the warning while others still remain. The Public Works personnel have secured those properties that have been left vacant and those that will be vacated,” NODS said.
Director of NODS Philmore Mullin said that the process is ongoing and will continue until completed.
NODS further stated that over 60 people have been living at the Barrymore Hotel, both Antiguans and Barbudans – some of whom have been occupying the space before Hurricane Irma in 2017. Some individuals, who are employed, have been living there for over 10 years.