Majestic Alley burns Print E-mail
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Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 30 March 2017 00:00

On Friday evening ,just about the time most of us were either preparing to leave work to go home for the weekend, or while some of us sat in front of our television set, viewing the Budget Debate, the residents of the Majestic Alley (Pinks Alley) Hutment, were watching their lives change before their very eyes, as a fire raged through their apartments. It is not the first time that these persons have seen their apartments go up in flames though. According to what we have ascertained so far, it is the third fire to affect these poor residents of Majestic Alley. In many cases some of the residents are third, fourth and even fifth generation residents of this area. So some of them may have experienced all three fires.

We have heard various accounts of what happened, what the response of the Fire Department was. As usual there have been the accusations that the fire trucks did not have water upon arrival at the scene of the fire. It is a fact that the fire trucks don't carry large capacity tanks. They carry about 300 gallons of water, which would be expended in 2 to 3 minutes. The way we understand it to be is that the fire fighters would arrive with 2 fire trucks .The lead truck would proceed to the scene of the fire, a senior fire fighter would be one of the persons onboard that truck, while the other truck would proceed to either the nearest FIRE HYDRANT or OPEN SOURCE i.e. a river, lake, creek, lagoon, canal, sea or even a swimming pool, to pump water to feed the truck that is on the scene. While they do that the aforementioned  Senior Fighter as the COMMANDER on the scene would do a size up of the fire and set up a plan of attack for the fire. The water onboard the lead truck would be used as they await the replenishment supply that is being fed to them by the second truck. The Senior Firefighter if he/she saw the need would have already called in for additional assets, including more fire trucks, firefighting equipment and manpower.

Even though the firefighters may have the best operation plans, they may encounter things such as having  to wait for the utility to cut the power, equipment malfunction, traffic congestion, residents getting in their way, hose damage caused by vehicles being driven over their hoses and sometimes even vandalism, from persons who damage their hose. Whatever the approach the firefighters use at a fire scene is not the reason for this essay. Neither are comments of the public on the performance of the firefighters, those could  be dealt within another essay . What is more important at this time, is the plight of the poor victims of the fire. These victims are poor people who cannot afford to cope with their present situation on their own. Neither are they people who can, afford to rebuild houses for themselves. CEMO, the City Emergency Management Organization, under the umbrella of the Belize City Council and direction of Councilor Phillip Willoughby, hit the ground running. The Majestic Alley Fire happened literally in front of the City Council Headquarters. Bedding supplies, clothing, food, water and security were supplied and the victims were housed at the St Mary's School while some victims chose to stay with relatives. There were SIXTY or so persons affected, by the huge fire that destroyed FOUR BUILDINGS.

That process of sheltering the fire victims, continues presently. Since Saturday the victims have been relocated to another shelter, but that though, is for the short term. These victims need permanent placement, in order to get their lives back on track. A decision has to be taken on whether or not to repair the apartment building, or to break it down, then build another apartment building at the same location or build individual housing units on the same site, or on another site or sites. Our suggestion would be to breakdown that building and build modest concrete bungalows in another location or locations, where these persons would get to own these houses on spacious lots where they would be able to get a fresh start to their lives. It is not just us who are saying that. Even some of the fire victims, have said so. This is what Leroy Grandmaster Young, one such fire victim said about what should be done: "These apartments went through 3 fire burn already. When I use to be a rapper, I had a song that I made about the first fire burn. (Fire de inna our area), then the second time and now this is the third time. In other words I am saying these stuff need to be broken down, taken down and start build a house for each family. Nothing fancy - a nice little cement bungalow house.”

Having gone through fires, we are of the opinion that the structural integrity of the buildings have been compromised. That has since been confirmed by the City Engineer and City Planner. Another reason why we are suggesting, that individual houses be built for the fire victims, is that there is the suggestion from the experts at the FIRE DEPARTMENT that the congestion of the neighborhood caused the fire to spread so easily. In that regard we have been doing ,a little investigation on our own and from all we have unearthed so far, there is the suggestion, that the apartment building and the land on which it sits is owned by a certain SENIOR POLITICIAN. The narrative gets even more complicated. There is a story being told, that some years ago a STARATA TITLE was issued for all or a portion of that land, after which it was mortgaged to a credit union. That credit union is said to have foreclosed on that mortgage. We don’t usually publish unsubstantiated stories but on this one we are going with what is out there. If the person or the credit union, who our sources mentioned wish to prove us wrong about the property, then the onus is on them.

As the situation appears right now , there is the need to ascertain who owns those lots and that is something we have been trying to do, If we as TAXPAYERS ,are to be asked to pay to repair or build on that spot or any other spot, then it should be occupants of those houses, who should own those properties. We certainly don’t want our tax dollars to be used to build political capital for any politician or to allow that POLITICIAN to use those properties as tools of oppression to keep voters in check, keeping them beholden and dependent on the perceived benevolence of said politician. Whatever decision is made it should be in the best interest of the fire victims and not for the benefit of a politician. We say to our government, the same thing that God told Moses to do, thousands of years ago.

“.......Go down, Moses ;
Way down in Egypt’s land,
Tell old Pharaoh ;
To let my people go!

No more shall they in bondage, toil;
Let my people go!
Let them come out with Egypt’s spoil,
Let my people go! ...... “.