The remaining 11 squatters occupying portions of plots 1767 and 1768 Cummings Lodge (Cummings Park), East Coast Demerara are in the process of being relocated, as the Housing Ministry embarks on a new housing project in the area.
On Wednesday, Housing Minister Collin Croal and Chief Executive Officer of CH&PA, Sherwyn Greaves, along with Senior Superintendent of Police Calvin Brutus, Deputy Commissioner (ag) Clifton Hicken and Regional Commander of “4A” Division, Simon Mc Bean, visited the area which is earmarked for a new housing project.
Croal, during the visit, noted that the illegal activity would severely hamper development, as some 190 low-income homes are to be built there for low-income families.
“We have been working with persons squatting in this area since August last year, and a number of unoccupied structures have been demolished since then. However, the eleven structures remaining are those that were found to have occupants. They were served notices to remove, and we have had our Community Development Department working with them,” Croal said on Wednesday, adding that the squatters have received their final contravention notices, and assistance is being provided to remove them immediately.
Croal added that the visit with the high-ranking officials from the Guyana Police Force is to enhance security in the area, given the magnitude of the development. Discussions with the officials has pointed to an outpost being placed towards the Aubrey Barker end of the project.
The notices served require the informal settlers to be removed by Saturday, April 10, 2021. CH&PA is currently in the process of relocating the squatters to a suitable area within the vicinity.
According to the Ministry, initial reports noted that 13 contravention notices were served on 13 structures observed by CH&PA on August 20, 2021. By August 27, 2020 22 structures were then observed, and a demolition exercise was conducted on October 13, 2020, leaving 11 occupied structures. A number of call-in notices were also served, and six of the informal settlers have since approached CH&PA. The final contravention notice was served on April 3, 2021.
Based on interaction with the squatters, eight have applications within the CH&PA system, while another three are in the process of formally applying to facilitate the relocation process.
Back in November 2020, President Dr Irfaan Ali had announced that land clearing works were started for new housing schemes at Mon Repos and Cummings Lodge. He noted that the Government’s housing programme would create tens of thousands of jobs in the construction and home improvement sectors.
Moreover, the construction sector would be key to driving growth in Guyana’s non-oil sectors.
As part of the PPP/C Government’s plan to make available over 50,000 house lots over the next five years to citizens, the Housing Ministry had commenced steps to access 6356 acres of lands to help satisfy this demand.
In addition to other areas, the lands were being sought between Golden Grove and Peters Hall on the East Bank of Demerara (EBD), and between Ogle to Cummings Lodge on the East Coast of Demerara (ECD), for the development of additional housing schemes.
With a budgetary allocation of $6 billion for housing, Government has said the establishment of a Diaspora Housing Fund is being considered. The Head of State had also revealed that Government was looking at other areas of securing financing for the housing sector. Those include efforts to raise some US$250 million for housing projects.