Vermont man ‘ready fuh move all now’

Vermont resident Emrol John, South Leeward representative Nigel Stephenson and Opposition Leader Arhnim Eustace in Vermont on Wednesday (Photo: NDP)

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – Squatter Emrol John, the Vermont resident who is being accused of delaying construction of the Vermont-Francois Bridge because of the location of his house, said that he is ready to move even now.

John, who has been given until Sunday to demolish his three-bedroom house or have it demolished by the government at his expense, however, said that contrary to information in the public, the government never offered him a relocation package until yesterday.

John, who lives at the house with his common-law wife and three children — ages 7, 13, 18, and 21 — told I-Witness News Thursday night that he was only offered a relocation package earlier that day.

“What they say is they would give me … six months’ rent and [the] value [of] the property,” he said.

John has identified a piece of land that he can move to. The land, owned by a private citizen, is valued EC$23,000.

“Me ready fuh move all now. Because if they did give me an offer before, I wudda done move from here. They never [gave] me any offer … until today,” he said.

“No, that is not true,” John said in response to statements by former deputy prime Sir Louis Straker on radio yesterday that John had refused a relocation offer that included the government paying six months’ rent for him an his family.

“I [went] and locate the land. Mr Straker [said] the government would either relocate me and if there was any land around that he could have gotten, the government [would have] purchased it for me. And that is since 2010 and I never [heard] anything from Straker them [until] this month here. And this is 2012.”

John further denied refusing to go to see Sir Louis at his office while the former minister of foreign affairs, who quit politics in December 2010, was still in office.

“No. Mr Straker didn’t invite me to come to his office. He [told] someone to … tell me that when I get the land to come and check him. And I gave the Chief Surveyor the message to give him and nobody never come back to me from that time,” John said.

“I [visited] Mr. Julian Francis, I [visited] the Prime Minister, I [visited the Chief Engineer] Brent Bailey. I [visited] them on many occasions and no one gave me an offer until today. Mr. Brent Bailey … had me in his office and [gave] me that offer,” John said.

South Leeward representative, opposition legislator Nigel Stephenson said Wednesday night that he and John chanced upon each other while visiting Bailey’s office to discuss John’s relocation last week Monday.

According to Stephenson, Bailey said that John had already identified crown lands in Vermont and the state would pay for it.

“That was last Monday and they were having Cabinet on Wednesday. So, I said to Mr. Bailey, ‘Well, since Cabinet is the body that is ultimately responsible for making the decision to relocate Mr. John, and they haven’t met as yet, can we now safely say that Mr. John is not the person responsible for the delay of the construction of the bridge?’ He said, ‘I agree with you, he is not the person’,” Stephenson said in recounting his conversation with Bailey.

Emrol John's home in Vermont will be demolished if he does not relocate by this Sunday, authorities say (Photo: Ovis Burke).

But John told I-Witness News that while the state has offered him a relocation package he was not given any documents or told when to collect them. “No document, no paper, no nothing. … I am ready to move because ah really want to see the bridge [built],” he said, adding that he was told that government officials would visit to value his house.

Asked if he would move by Sunday, as ordered, John told I-Witness News: “Well, I don’t know because right now, I don’t have [anywhere] to go by Sunday. So I have to stay until I have somewhere to go. Because ah me and me family.”

John said that he has been living at the spot since 2000. “This place here was a dumpsite and for some years ago I clean it up and say well I don’t want to live pon the street,” he said.

He, however, denied that former or current South Leeward representatives Jerry Scott and Nigel Stephenson, both of the New Democratic Party, encouraged him not to relocate.

“Me and Jerry Scott and Nature them never talk them thing dey. … People are saying these things. Because the position I live in now, Jerry or Nature can’t tell me whether to move or to stay. Ah me have to decide that because me live in a dangerous place here right now. The river [is] just about three feet from me,” he said.

“Me just ah wait on the government and see how far we could go from here,” he said.

I-Witness News yesterday contacted a government’s spokesperson for verification of the relocation package being offered to John. But the spokesperson, up to 7:30 last night, was unable to confirm what was on offer to the Vermont family.

The Unity Labour Party administration, since coming to office in 2001, has adopted a policy of offering relocation packages to persons, including squatters, displaced by the construction of state-financed infrastructure.

But Minister of Works Senator Julian Francis told Parliament last year that notwithstanding this policy and a provisional sum in the contract for John’s relocation, he would not recommend that John be found land to relocate to “because he was advised by persons close to the Member for South Leeward and persons close to the New Democratic Party to put his house there”.

Francis, however, said on radio this week that that the government has gone beyond its policy in the assistance offered to John. According to Francis, the government has offered to pay six months’ rent for a house for John and his family, to pay for the value of his house, allocate construct a house, paying for the land when he can.

Read also: NDP wants to use Vermont man to blackmail gov’t – ex-MP

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12 thoughts on “Vermont man ‘ready fuh move all now’

  1. Unity Liars Part, Just wait and see the government renege on some part of the deal.

    What a shame World Press wasted journey.

    Posted by Peter | February 10, 2012, 09:41
  2. With “useless” influence he could be lying.Look he even wearing they t-shirt.

    Posted by Jason | February 10, 2012, 10:15
    • JASON .. Tell us what shirt is Mr. John wearing? The man is in a yellow T-Shirt. There is no writing on it. So tell us what shirt is it? Even if it was an NDP shirt, what does this have to do with anything? The man is free to wear anything, and any colour clothes he chooses. We are not CULT Jason! It is time you ULP people understand this. I know that you are all brain washed but don’t assumed that all of us are …..Then yo’all tun ’round and say NDP is all about politics? ULP is not?

      Posted by luamiaj | February 10, 2012, 13:56
    • imagine a family has to move and all you could comment on is that the man is wearing a t-shirt? have a heart and hope and pray that they find a place to live

      Posted by Garfield Lewis | February 10, 2012, 15:16
    • Jason to everyone and the avid readers of this comment thread,you have prove that you are a New Sense of stupidity that is yet to be discovered not only that but time and time again supporters of both the ULP and NDP display their sincere fanatism on Radio face book iwitness news and other forums,please the issue here is a family about to be made homeless and children are involve i can go further maybe a laptap from the Goverment is in that home are we to call the Government a cow giving a bottle of milk and turn around and kick it over,well i guess so,As to Sir Louis Straker a man who has proven to be heartless vindictive liar i expected no better modus operandi to issues to that of Mr John it was expected. ( As to Mr John trust no one get something in writing from the Government you have the masses support.)

      Posted by terrancerome | February 11, 2012, 00:33
  3. Straker is a practicing liar. Ask the people of Central Leeward why everytime Straker is walking the streets in Layou people call him LIARD.

    Posted by luamiaj | February 10, 2012, 13:58
  4. Boy some of you really colour blind..why don’t you purchase all the yellow t.shirts or top in st.vincent and burnt them,you nun skulls…you are really full of s**t ?????..i don’t even want to mention your name ..if that your name…which part of that t,shirt you see ndp….the influence of dr,lie..make all of you think everything is ah lie…dammm fools….

    Posted by dirtsman | February 10, 2012, 18:21
  5. Reckless, spitefull and vindictive. SVG is the only country in the world where the governing party, ULP led by Ralph Gonsalves, is destroying people’s homes, Argyle the most, and will not compensate the owners. The ULP is also in the business of shutting down businesses to increase the unemployment list. Venezuela is far different, at least they are taking over the business and keeping people employed. There was a tender and in it was costs for relocation for both land and house, why is it now that Julian is saying that he will get a piece of crown land that the home owner will pay for?. Don’t trust the twin tower of evil, they will offer you a piece of land that is high in the mountain or far away from utilities. As for utilities, the ULP’s next move will be to instruct CWSA and Vinlec to cut you off. If there is a tractor on location already moving dirt could only mean that the contracter has already started working and is not going by the terms of the contract that they won which is to relocate the family, breach of contract?. If the contracter isn’t working as yet is it that Julian got a ‘friend’ with a tractor to do what they are doing there?. Justice is not cheap but i see some clear breaches for the legal minds to assist this family. The Taiwanese surely did not finance this project to make anyone homeless and i wonder what other projects they financed and the monies disappeared.

    Posted by KS784 | February 12, 2012, 12:03
  6. I know a lot of you ndp idiots will comment.But guess what I hope “useless” wins the next elections so I can prove you idiots wrong.I don’t live in vincy.I moved because vincy people to ignorant and stupid for they own good.I live around civilized people now.I really hope “useless” wins.Who cah hear will feel.Damn fools!

    Posted by Jason | February 12, 2012, 12:22
  7. He bought the land what he squatting on? So I can just go on government land and live? If this is so then none of us will be buying or selling lands or paying taxes.No wonder svg so way behind time compare to the rest of the world lol

    Posted by Jason | February 12, 2012, 12:25
  8. Jason you are a nasty little boy. Can you imagine what Gonsalves and people like you would be saying, and how you all Saint Vincents Marxist scum would be behaving if you were in the oposition and NDP acting in worthless way?


    Jason, more than half the land owned in Saint Vincent started out as sqatted land from 1835 on to present date, perhaps you are you like Gonsalves a silver spoon in the mouth boy.

    Posted by Peter | February 12, 2012, 17:25
  9. Jason, You are one of the most blind and unthinkable person i have ever met on these topics. Leave the politics out of it and look at it from a different point-of-view. If that was your family, what would have think about it? Can you remember the estates bought during the NDP government term in office? Many people profit from lands they never paid a dime for and some people still own those land. The present Government divided the country and we need to be Vincentians again, no matter the party, the country is going in the wrong direction and we need to stop this party support thing and look out for our people. Be a Vincentian first and then you can do anything after.

    Posted by Mat | February 13, 2012, 14:00

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