Same old Riverton - Community still haunted by its dark past
Back in the late 1990s, Riverton City, which was one of Jamaica's largest squatter settlements, went through a major transformation that was aimed at removing the board houses and zinc fences and replacing them with a new housing scheme what is now known as Riverton Meadows.
The aim, as the Government reported then, was to raise the social status of the community.
But the new houses seem to have done little to raise the social class of the people in the area, as 20 years later, the community is still haunted by its dark past.
Like the days when one of Jamaica's most notorious criminals, Natty Morgan, prowled its crevices and corners, unlit streets and the sounds of gunfights are still characteristics of the community's weary nights, residents told THE STAR.
When THE STAR visited the community late last week, some of the residents said that they regretted making the $15,000 deposit to get their homes.
"No upliftment. Everything stagnant. We don't have any street lights. Is just the other day dem patch up the road. Sometimes we don't even have garbage truck," a resident, who asked to remain anonymous, told THE STAR. "In the early years, we had street lights, but then dem start to malfunction, and from dem time deh, we nuh have nuh light. I wish mi never, buy nuh house round here."
The resident said that the unlit streets foster the activities of criminals in the area, who have been going at it constantly for the past few weeks.
"As 6 o'clock come, everybody lock up because a pure gunshot you a hear, and the lack of street lights contributes to this," the resident said.
LACK OF DEVELOPMENT
The neglect, which the resident speaks of so passionately, was not part of the plan in 1997. Chairman of the Riverton Meadows Development Organisation Headley Chambers told THE STAR then that there were "plans to build a playing field, a skills training centre and a green park."
But the residents say that they believe that it was the lack of development of this part of the plan that caused violence to still be rampant in the community.
"Dem did waa the training centre because some of dem dark. Dem nuh go no weh," the resident said.
The designated area for the green park is now toxic with fumes from burnt copper and dust from the mechanic work being done by men who have transformed the area into a garage.
Not only did the plan to transform the community fail, but those who were supposed to benefit from it didn't get a chance, the residents said.
Joy Hemmings, who was one of those persons coming from board houses and zinc fences, said that many of the original members of the community never got a chance to get one of the houses.
"If you look pon this street right here, is only four people are original people. The rest of them are outsiders," Hemmings said.