Squatters still waiting for gov’t housing

National 2 minutes, 23 seconds


A DIABETIC amputee is still waiting to be relocated from Kg Jabang after being ordered by the Kuala Belait and Seria Municipal Board to temporarily move into another squatter house in the same village four years ago.

Dulaman Ayat, 53, said he and his two siblings – all stateless permanent residents – were asked to moved by the board from their original squatter house four years ago, after the authorities deemed that its structural base was no longer safe.

In an interview, Dulaman claimed that municipal authorities told them that their new living arrangement was only temporary, as efforts were being made to find them proper housing.

However, Dulaman said he has not heard of an updated status of potential housing.

“We moved to an adjacent squatter house, previously occupied by a Chinese family who had been relocated to government barrack housing. The municipal board said they wanted us to move to clear the area and demolish our old house,” he said.

Earlier this year, Dulaman, who previously sold fresh food at stalls in Seria town, burned his left leg in a cooking accident. The incident has since prevented the 53-year-old from returning to employment.

Dulaman said he initially went to see a private doctor after suffering from the injury, who prescribed topical ointments, but his leg did not recover.

He then sought a second opinion from another private clinic, who immediately referred him to see a doctor at Suri Seri Begawan Hospital (SSBH) in Kuala Belait.

“The doctor at SSBH verified that I was in fact diabetic which is why my wound was failing to heal properly. Due to complications, I was told that my leg needed to be removed,” said Dulaman, who underwent the amputation earlier in April.

Thanks to a SSBH doctor, Dulaman was granted a special monthly allowance of $250 by the Community Development Department, but the amount is just enough to keep him afloat, with no prospects in sight for him to be financially able to purchase or rent a house elsewhere.

Assisting Dulaman in their current house is his brother Sulaiman, who is currently unemployed, but will begin work in January as a security guard.

“We are really at odds about our feelings towards our current situation, on one hand we trust as we keep waiting for our housing assistance to come through – yet when we see all the people relocated already, it makes us wonder if our application fell through the cracks,” said 39-year-old Sulaiman.

The relocation of squatter families to government barrack housing – typically reserved for civil servants – was initiated in 2012 by the Belait District Office to solve the decades-old problem of squatters in the district. The key problem areas are in Kg Jabang, Kg Api-Api and Kg Sg Baru.

The government has a list of over 30 criteria that prioritises the housing applicants based on citizenship, living conditions and social arrangements.

The Brunei Times