A project by the Ministry of Works, Drainage Division to construct a retaining wall along the borders of the San Juan River has resulted in damaging the property of a nearby resident.
The ministry began constructing the retaining wall on October 15 near MTS Plaza in San Juan to prevent flooding in the area.
But residents of a nearby property said the construction has caused more damage to the property than they anticipated. They also said the damage has made access difficult for them.
Speaking to Newsday on Friday, owner of the property Vinda Bachan, his tenant Aaron Williams, who runs an AC repair business on the property, and his wife Samantha Williams said the ministry defied their signed agreement.
“Everyone wants the wall, including us,” said Samantha, “but we never gave permission to dig into the land like this.”
She said construction began without proper consultation with the owner or tenants.
“When they came, I was not here.”
Williams said he was alerted by a neighbour that contractors were breaking down the wall and he did not have a chance to move his equipment, including a compressor, air conditioning fans and an outdoor grill owned by Bachan, which were all damaged when the wall came down.
He said they called the ministry and a representative visited,apologised for the damage, and agreed with Bachan and Williams the ministry wouldto remove the fence and shift the equipment a bit to accommodate construction. Williams said they were reassured construction would not interfere with his business.
The copy of the signed agreement obtained by Newsday said all parties agreed to temporarily move Williams’ work shed north of its present location to continue daily work. It also said once work was completed, the fence and work shed would be reinstated in a “reasonable…and timely manner.”
Williams said they were not given a completion date.
Williams and Bachan said the construction extended far beyond the agreed-on limit and vehicles can no longer get in and out of the property, making it impossible for Williams to run his business.
“Since October 15 I cannot ply my trade,” said Williams. “I have a wife and three children. They have no concern for my family.”
Bachan, who had to have a leg amputated in November owing to complications of diabetes, said he can no longer stay at his home and is now living with a nephew in St Joseph who helps him get around.
“I’m staying there with him because to move up and down stairs is hard. Even to use the bathroom is hard. I have to get used to it.”
He said his nephew cannot drop him at his front door.
Willaims said the director of the drainage department told her the ministry is awaiting documents to show if Bachan’s property is part of the road reserve.
Bachan said he had spent his entire 65 years on the property, which was passed down to him from his parents, who bought it as an agricultural lot. He said the property measures 115 feet from the back to the front and there was never a road passing through it. His house is at the end of the street.
Calls to the director of the drainage department went unanswered on Friday.