For more than a decade Shanty Mungal Gobin and her family have lived in a shipping container having fled a life of abuse.But now at 60 years old, Gobin is facing a life on the street having been given the notice to vacate the container in two weeks.The container is in the pathway of the Solomon Hochoy Highway Extension and as the government continues the construction, Gobin and her neighbours have been issued with eviction notices.
Speaking with Guardian Media, Gobin said she had nowhere to go and nobody to turn to.“Where am I going to find a place in two weeks? I cannot go by my children. They have their own problems. I live by myself and at this time of my life it is really hard to be going through this,” she wept.
She said she does not even have a bank account or any money or land to put the container on.She urged the Ministry of Works and the National Infrastructure Development Company (NIDCO) to hold their hand on the eviction. She explained that she had no friends but survived by doing domestic work.“I do domestic work by people houses. Sometimes I get work at Anand Low Price. I am always asking for help because my parents were too poor to send me to school so I never learnt to read and write. It is embarrassing,” she said.
Gobin begged for a piece of land to rest her container and for transportation to carry it.“If I could get half a bedroom to live in, I will take it. All I need is a little place to settle in or a piece of land to put down the container. Next two weeks from now I don’t know where I will be going but I trust in my God,” she said.
Gobin said her container was outfitted with electricity and she had applied for a water connection since 2017.The distraught mother said she never believed her life would take a turn for the worse after she suffered years of abuse.“I went through a lot. He used to really beat me and curse me and do me all kind of thing that nobody wants to face in life. He put me out 12 o’clock at night and I just had to go without a dollar or anything. Now I was hoping for some peace but I have to move now,” she added.
Works Minister Rohan Sinanan was contacted yesterday to ask whether he could offer any assistance to Gobin.He responded, “I can’t get involved in that as the minister. There is a process for it. NIDCO has its processes to follow with that. I can’t get involved. I am sure that it will be dealt with between NIDCO and Commissioner of State Lands.”
Asked what was the process, Sinanan said he did not know. “Those are operational things that NIDCO deal with,” he explained.
Meanwhile, NIDCO’s communications officer Naasir Mohammed confirmed that Gobin was squatting in the existing right of way of the South Trunk Road at St Mary’s Junction.“This right of way falls within the required land for the construction of the highway extension project.”
Mohammed said since 2014 to present notices were served to Gobin as well as other squatters.“This resulted in self-relocation of all other squatters except Gobin who has therefore been granted an extremely long grace period. Throughout the process, Gobin agreed to comply with the Highway Act Notice and relocate her structure NIDCO maintained communication with Gobin as works commenced in the adjacent areas. Recently Gobin was advised that works were scheduled to commence on Friday,” Mohammed said.
He advised Gobin to relocate her structure immediately.