$72M project to relocate Broad and Lombard Streets squatters commences

Minister with responsibility for housing, Valarie Patterson, said a million contract has been awarded for the infrastructural works at Barnwell North on the East Bank of Demerara so that the Lombard and Broad Street Squatters relocation project can get underway.
“We are investing million in the infrastructure, we have to do the roads and put water and electricity in… a contractor, Ivor Alleyne, has been hired and works are ongoing,” the Minister said.
The Department of Housing in collaboration with Food For The Poor (FFTP) would be constructing 72 homes for squatters in the Lombard and Broad Street area.
Minister Patterson said the Government would be matching the million contribution by FFTP but noted that President David Granger is not pleased with the current model of the houses. She said taking that into consideration, the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) would be making slight alterations to create more space by adding a back patio and a shaded verandah to the houses.
“President Granger is not satisfied with the model of the Food For The Poor houses so CH&PA will be putting additional money in, slightly adjusting Food For The Poor model. We are putting a patio at the back and verandah with cover at front,” she said.
This relocation is part of the Ministry’s efforts to combat squatting across the country. According to Patterson, the Ministry’s focus at this time is Georgetown, where efforts are being made to relocate squatters from Sophia, East and West Ruimveldt as well as other central locations.
Each home is expected to cost .2 million and Minister Patterson said they are working out a plan with the prospective owners for them to stand the cost of water meters among other things.
The squatting area came to public attention after former Social Protection Minister Volda Lawrence, led a team from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to the area as part of their first country visit to Guyana.
“During its visit to the neighbourhood of Lombard Street, the IACHR delegation was shocked by the extreme poverty and precarious living conditions of its inhabitants. The community comprises approximately 40 adults and 80 children with clear housing, sanitation, and health problems, as well as limited work opportunities and scant social services provided by the State,” the IACHR said in a statement following the visit.
Earlier this month, Minister Lawrence visited the area to sort out some issues and expressed the desire to have 56 turnkey homes built for the residents. However, Minister Patterson said if Government gave the residents land, then they would just move their shacks to the plot of land thus creating another shantytown.
Some 68 adults and 100 children are living in the area under severe poverty. It was highlighted that most of the residents there live under severe poverty and are unemployed. The land belongs to a private individual, who has been granted a judgment against the squatters in the High Court.