Govt committed to Success squatters owning their homes — President Ali
…but do it the right way
President Irfaan Ali on Friday pointedly addressed the issue of squatting at Success on the East Coast of Demerara, as he urged these persons to accept the lawful method of acquiring home ownership.
This was especially highlighted since many squatters have refused to remove themselves from the lands owned by the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), even as the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) have visited the area to commence the land application process for unlawful occupants.
Speaking at the “Dreams Realised” Housing Drive, Dr Ali indicated that Government has reached out to the squatters on numerous occasions, since the aim is for persons to have a home of their own. He insisted that communities will become unsuccessful if they aren’t built on a legal footing and assured that the process will be hastened to help these individuals.
“Let me say to my brothers and sisters at Success, who we’ve reached out to on many occasions, it is not that we want you to be dislodged in the area. We want you to own your own homes too. That is why we sent the housing team to see you. But there’s a right way in doing things and a wrong way. In Guyana, we have to get accustomed to doing things the right way. Otherwise, we’ll be developing communities that are not successful. We want to help you. We are going to move as fast as possible in this programme,” the Head of State cited.
Amid calls for the Success lands to be regularised, he clarified that investments in squatting areas hold no value and cannot be used as collateral.
“I’m appealing to Guyanese, let us do it the right way. If you invest $5 million in a squatter settlement, there is no value because it cannot be used as collateral. If you invest it in a structured scheme, there is value. You can capitalise on that for more.”
The area, which has been overtaken by squatting, would have already damaged 17,000 varieties of sugarcane in the process. Despite new developments, persons have been asked to vacate but some are still non-compliant, thus refusing to cease the illegal inhabitance of State lands.
A few weeks back, the CH&PA was tasked with registering squatters, so that they could be eligible for a house lot. It was previously reported that lands in 22 areas on the East Coast, East Bank, and West Bank Demerara; Linden; Berbice and Essequibo were approved in the 2020 Emergency Budget and this publication understands that allocations for the residents will fall under this project.
On Thursday, Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) was ordered to restart operations at the Enmore Sugar Estate by early 2022, which has prompted the commencement of work at Success.
GuySuCo’s Chief Executive Officer, Sasenarine Singh was quoted as saying that while the squatters have been affected by these steps, the Ministry of Housing and Water had urged them to relocate and as such, arrangements were even made for other parcels of land to be made available.
The CEO explained that to have successful outcomes from the sugar mills at Enmore, there must be a supply of one-year-old matured sugar canes. As a result, land tillage needs to commence next January. Singh believes that the sugar company is not being unreasonable, since it had previously parcelled off and transferred high-value lands to the Housing Ministry’s Central Housing and Planning Authority to facilitate 28,000 house lots.
Sections of the plot at Success were inundated with water on Thursday. This led to an escalation of the situation as armed men pounced on a security guard stationed at the Success Backlands, disarmed him and shot at a drainage pump before escaping on a motorcycle. Also, National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) Board member, Nigel Hinds, has reportedly tendered his resignation from the boarding as he disagreed with the decision to flood the lands. Guyana Times’ effort to contact Hinds for a comment on the issue proved futile.