Clifton Towers tenants claim HDC boss helped gangster get unit

Res­i­dents at the Hous­ing De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion’s Clifton Tow­ers at St Paul’s Street, Port-of-Spain, fear 15 il­le­gal ten­ants who were evict­ed by po­lice and army per­son­nel in 2017 may have re­turned af­ter a “gang­ster boss” was giv­en an apart­ment on the com­pound once again.

It is al­leged that HDC of­fi­cials seem to have their hands tied in the mat­ter, as a se­nior HDC of­fi­cial re­port­ed­ly has links with a fe­male rel­a­tive of the al­leged gang­ster.

One ten­ant, who wished not to be iden­ti­fied, said: “Why the il­le­gal oc­cu­pants still liv­ing on the com­pound and HDC keep­ing it low key as though they cut a deal with (name called)?”

Oth­er ten­ants are de­mand­ing that the HDC is held ac­count­able for them be­ing forced to live in fear and for all il­le­gal oc­cu­pants, gang­sters in­clud­ed, be evict­ed from the prop­er­ty.

“On­ly when in­for­ma­tion is passed on to the me­dia they (re­fer­ring to HDC) pre­tend to re­spond by hav­ing the po­lice come and evict them. A cou­ple of hours af­ter the il­le­gal oc­cu­pants back in the build­ings,” an­oth­er ten­ant said yes­ter­day.

“We want the en­trance locked down with ac­cess to ten­ants on­ly. As it is right now it is a free for all. Our safe­ty is com­pro­mised dai­ly. We and our chil­dren are at risk,” the ten­ant added.

On Tues­day, con­cerned ten­ants res­ur­rect­ed safe­ty and se­cu­ri­ty con­cerns as they claim gang ac­tiv­i­ties, drugs and ad­dicts were on the in­crease on the com­pound due to the gang­ster oc­cu­py­ing a ninth-floor apart­ment in one of the tow­ers.

Con­tact­ed for com­ment on the claim yes­ter­day, HDC man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Brent Lyons, through his man­ag­er of cor­po­rate com­mu­ni­ca­tions Dike Noel, de­nied claims there was pref­er­en­tial treat­ment to any­one due to any re­la­tion­ship be­tween a se­nior em­ploy­ee and the al­leged gang­ster’s rel­a­tive.

Noel added, how­ev­er, that the HDC would have to re­quest ad­di­tion­al sup­port and in­ter­ven­tion giv­en the na­ture of the ten­ants’ se­cu­ri­ty con­cerns.

“Clifton Tow­er is a hous­ing com­mu­ni­ty with unique chal­lenges, which re­quire in most cas­es the in­ter­ven­tion of the Trinidad and To­ba­go Po­lice Ser­vice. Our Se­cu­ri­ty De­part­ment, there­fore, con­tin­ues to work with the TT Po­lice Ser­vice to treat with any il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties in Clifton Tow­er.”

With spe­cif­ic ref­er­ence to il­le­gal oc­cu­pants at Clifton Tow­er, Noel said the HDC has an on­go­ing tar­get­ed pro­gramme to re­duce il­le­gal oc­cu­pan­cy and tres­pass­ing in its hous­ing de­vel­op­ments.

“IOnce il­le­gal oc­cu­pants or ac­tiv­i­ties are iden­ti­fied, the HDC takes the nec­es­sary steps to cor­rect the sit­u­a­tion in the short­est pos­si­ble time,” Noel said.

“Af­ter re­ceiv­ing the in­for­ma­tion from the Guardian on Feb­ru­ary 26 re: al­leged il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties at Clifton Tow­er, the HDC li­aised with the TTPS to as­cer­tain the de­tails of the re­ports and will take ap­pro­pri­ate ac­tion.”

Noel said the HDC’s So­cial and Com­mu­ni­ty Ser­vices De­part­ment, as part of its man­date, in­ves­ti­gates and me­di­ates in­ter-neigh­bour griev­ances and any oth­er ac­tiv­i­ties which can neg­a­tive­ly im­pact the wel­fare of the hous­ing com­mu­ni­ty.

“Notwith­stand­ing the many ef­forts and in­ter­ven­tion ex­er­cis­es that have been con­duct­ed, un­sat­is­fac­to­ry and un­ten­able ac­tiv­i­ties may still ex­ist,” he said.

Reporter: Rhondor Dowlat