City Council to compromise with squatters on way forward

in light of the increased number of squatters who have illegally taken up residence in some communities on Government reserves, The Mayor and City Council (M&CC) intends to come to a compromise with these persons in deriving a feasible way forward.

Predominantly, squatting is a regular tendency in the Sophia, Greater Georgetown area, where a number of ‘mini houses’ can be seen built on dams and other parts of the land which have been unoccupied for a number of years.

With the vision of the Council to have the municipality of Georgetown undergo a major “facelift”, thought has being given as to how the issue of squatting can be addressed by the Administration in a timely and balancedSquatting (clean) manner that would not only benefit the Council, but also the squatters.

Speaking on the issue, recently elected Councillor of Constituency Five, Akeem Peters who has responsibility for Sophia, Liliendaal North and South, Pattensen/Turkeyen, North/South and Central Sophia, told Guyana Times that indeed, the City Council is looking to regularise the situation where squatting has become a customary act in Guyana.

There has been an increase in squatting over the years, as persons have complained about the “royal run around” they have to endure in hopes of acquiring a house lot, along with the high pricing and unavailability of lots for low and middle-income earners.

Noting this, Peters cited that the City Council is aware of the difficulty in securing land as well as the obvious plight of the squatters if their structures were dismantled without any indication by the Council.

For this reason, he said the Council has taken their discussions to the squatters, specifically those of the Sophia area, so they can voice their concerns and be involved in the decision-making process for their future and that of Guyana.

Through these consultations, it is expected that the squatters and the Council can come to a compromise in terms of the way forward after the structures have been demolished.

Though a decision has not been made by the Council thus far, Peters assured that the Council, after making its assessments, is looking to initiate the best solution to address the issue and the concerns of the squatters.

However, Peters did not specify what action the City Council will take in regards to the post action.

Meanwhile, this publication spoke to a squatter form the Sophia district who said that he has been squatting for the past three years.

The man, who declined to reveal his name, said he had applied for a house lot in 2012 but had to endure the “push around” by the Ministry only to receive a response in 2013, informing him that there were no lands available for low-income earners.

He said this stimulated his decision to illegally occupy the land he is situated on since he and his family had no shelter. “We didn’t have anywhere to go and I don’t have a steady job so I decided to knock up a thing here and me and my family have been living comfortable.”

Asked on whether he believes that City Council should remove these structures after consultations with the squatters, the man said he will be in agreement with the decision only if housing provisions are made available for them.

Earlier this year, the City Council had indicated that it will be dismantling squatting quarters since these are illegal in Guyana, and have been on the rise.