14 delegates from Richelieu, Telfair (Moka), Ste Catherine (St Pierre) and Rose Belle together with Lalit militants of the region organised in joint LALIT-inhabitant committees for secure housing met the Ombudsperson for Children yesterday afternoon. They explained in detail how the present government (just as consecutive governments) are responsible for building, leasing and selling defective and dangerous housing to inhabitants of these housing estates. In Richelieu, the government in 1982 built block and cement houses without columns to support the concrete roof. Today, families in Richelieu are living in ruined houses, with pieces of concrete falling onto people's beds, even into pots when cooking. With the heavy rains, these leaky houses are becoming even more uninhabitable. In EDC houses built as from 1962 in 59 areas around Mauritius, houses are made of asbestos panels. These panels have become friable over time. Both types of housing put children who live in them at risk.
Delegates also explained how inhabitants organised in joint LALIT-inhabitant committees have organised petitions, sent collectively organised individual letters to Ministers responsible, to the Housing Ministry PS, to MP's, but these letters have been pointedly ignored.
(For more about these actions of Richelieu and EDC inhabitants jointly with LALIT regionals, click
http://www.lalitmauritius.org/en/newsarticle/1988/housing-permanent-secretary-allagapen-called-upon-re-dangerous-houses/ and http://www.lalitmauritius.org/en/newsarticle/1951/petition-to-ministers-of-housing-environment-and-social-integration-on-asbestos-panels-removal-from-edcex-cha-houses/ ).
The Ombudsperson, Mrs Rita Vencatasawmy agreed that both housing problems endangers the health, even lives of children. “Adequate housing is a human right, and is vital for children's rights” she said. She informed delegates that she had nominated an officer, present in the meeting who would start site visits as from today. She also stated that she is studying how best to intervene so that such dangerous housing is removed and replaced.
After the meeting with the Ombudsperson for Children, delegates met the press. Delegates denounced the government for its massive concessions and support for billionaire luxury housing whilst ignoring calls to remove and replace defective and dangerous housing that it has built, leased and/or sold to the poor.