WITH no electricity or running water for their entire lives, residents of Mon Pellier Estate, Point Fortin describe themselves as a community that was “born into darkness.”
Decades later, they continue to plead with the owner of the estate – who they said met them there and said he has no plans to use the land – to allow the community to access these basic amenities.
The estate, in Cap-de-Ville, Point Fortin, is owned by the director of a guest house in north Trinidad.
Newsday visited the area and spoke with several residents, who said they had been living in those conditions all their lives.
Deneil “Simba” Lewis, 29, is a farmer. He lives there with his partner. Every day, he can be seen going to fill containers with pipe-borne water and returning home.
He said he has been able to manage the situation, but worries about the 25 or so children who also live there.
“I know with covid everything switched to online, but if it don’t have electricity here, then it can’t have internet…The most people do is put up a plan on their phone.”
Neither he nor his partner has a cell phone, he said.
Bheydesh Motilal said his household depends heavily on rainfall for a water supply, among several others.
He said they have all been trying to get in contact with the owners to plead once more for assistance.
They said last year, then-mayor and now MP for Point Fortin Kennedy Richards Jr tried arranging for a lightpole to be installed in the area. But when it was being transported over the bridge to get to the estate, the bridge collapsed and that plan had to be put on pause.
But, they said, an MP cannot do much, given the legal issues of the situation.
Josephine Lowell lives with her son, daughter and three grandchildren. She said she has been living there for 30 years.
“I did write a letter to the regional corporation about fixing the road, getting water and some streetlights up here since we can’t get no connection through (name omitted). But it has been a couple years well.
“The only time we see a relevant authority is when election come. Promises are made and as they reach in their spot, that is it until next five years again.
Another resident, Tracy-Ann Raybourne, has been living there for 36 years and still cannot fathom why the owner of the estate would not help.
In a legal document dated December 4, 2001, the owner “pledged to provide each legitimate individual with one lot of 5,000 square feet of land on the said estate with all surveying and plans preparation expenses to be borne by the owners.”
The location was Sumi Road Extension, which was approved by Town and Country for single homes.
“The individuals will be required to make arrangements to have their deeds made and registered.
“We have also agreed to pay each individual for all his/her existing fruit trees. However, each individual is required to provide us with an itemised list of his/her trees which we will inspect before any payment is made.”
A list of approximately 28 names was included in the document.
Raybourne said, “We have been trying for years and to no avail. We tried all kind of thing. We tried the councillor, the MP, we tried for ourselves…We real try since I was a little girl.
“You see this red stone here (on the ground)? That was self-help. All of the villagers – we tried to build a road (for the TT Electricity Commission) to get access to carry the electricity up in the back. But it never happened.”
They said when the owner bought the land, residents had already been living there for decades.
“He said don’t plant nothing, don’t renovate your house,” Raybourne said. “We tried to get electricity on our own, we asked him for consent and he said he will never sign that document.”
They said the owner visits the area at times, observes and leaves.
She said it is very challenging not having such basic necessities.
“We can’t afford the luxury of drinking something cold. We can’t buy too many food items at once because there is no fridge…Children have to use Zoom to do their schoolwork and it is a phone they have to use, with a day plan, connected to a power bank.
“It have children here who never experienced having electricity. They born in the darkness and they still in the darkness. It have people in their 20s who never had a supply of electricity.”
They said they do not want more generations to endure what they are experiencing.