Another PPP/C successful housing episode

Dear Editor,
I share the joy that the People’s Progressive Party Government recently brought to “some 30 low-income families, who had previously been residing in makeshift dwellings on dams along the East Bank adjacent to the Demerara River… (as they) have now had their living conditions improved with the provision of core homes situated at Great Diamond, East Bank Demerara.”
It is indeed an occasion that warrants a few comments.
First, by way of information, ‘squatter settlements’ are any collection of buildings where people have no legal rights to the land upon which they make their dwelling places, whether these are mere shacks or abandoned vehicles. In fact, evidence abounds that these places of shelter are constructed with poor materials, such as plastic sheeting, corrugated metal, wood and cardboard. These are all materials that are available either freely as waste or bought cheaply. As a result, squatter settlements often lack proper sanitation, water supply, electricity or telephone services. No wonder the chorus from recipients of these ‘core homes’ is that “I feel more better that I come off the dam.”
Editor, as we all know, the effects of squatter settlements include high mortality rates, high crime rates, unsafe living conditions, and pollution. Therefore, it is only via proactive and vigorous action that redress can be realised. It is in this vein that the PPP/C Government must be commended, as this will pave the way for the Administration to unleash further improvements in infrastructure and government services to these people.
What am I talking about?
It is that any squatter settlement is unplanned, and has the following horrible characteristics of being overcrowded and noisy, lacking in sanitation and clean drinking water, and is overflowing with open sewers. I add also that they lack the basic municipal services, such as water supply, sanitation, waste collection, or infrastructure, and are exposed to diseases, crimes, and natural disasters.
In others words, these once hapless people have been saved from a life of misery and deprivation.
Secondly, there is nothing political or ulterior about this developmental act. The word is that each home cost around $5.2 million, and the new homeowners would be required to pay a monthly mortgage of $25,000. They are two-bedroom core homes with a size of “…no less than 600 square feet, and include a kitchen, living area and restroom facilities, with concrete blocks for the outer walls and floors, basic doors, and electrical wiring, among other amenities.”
Overall, the aim of the Government was to “…meet basic standards of a family, and include additional space for affordable expansion.”
Then in terms of empowering the owners and facilitating their comfort and upward mobility, the Minister of Housing and Water, Collin Croal, explained that “All of these persons here (the recipients), obviously today, they will be issued (with) their electrical certificate; so, it means that they could apply to GPL and have their current connected immediately. So, there is access for electricity here. In fact, if you notice, it’s well-lit, and so they will be able to move in immediately. And we’ll be working with them on their relocation.”
He added that “…the beneficiaries would receive their land titles upon their completing payment for the structures.”
In terms of how all of this is unfolding, “The Ministry has, since 2021, been engaging with approximately 291 squatters on the sea dams at Herstelling, Farm, Covent Garden, Prospect, Diamond, Grove, and Friendship…(and to date) About 50 per cent of the settlers have already received land allocations in housing schemes. So, much more can be anticipated.
Let me alert readers that ‘slum dwelling’ in Guyana is on the way out, and rightly so.

Yours truly,
HB Singh