Gov’t looking to build low-cost houses for Sophia squatters
Minister within the Ministry of Communities, Valerie Sharpe-Patterson, on Wednesday, visited the South Sophia district to address a number of issues; mainly squatting. She noted that her Ministry is working to develop the area.
During her visit, the Minister disclosed that one of the resolutions being looked at, by Government is building condominiums, apartments and single houses in the Cummings Lodge area to accommodate the squatters, mainly low-income earners and state employees.
“What we are doing, we are looking at developing low-cost houses in Cummings Lodge and offer it to the people in Sophia, in this block as first preference. We are looking at what we call ‘rent to own’ so you rent the apartment until you own it,” Minister told residents.
She highlighted that majority of the residents are squatting on Government’s reserves which hinders drainage and further development of the community.
Sharpe Patterson stated that the government wants “to regularise Sophia, we want to bring some sort of decency to this area. The entire government reserve is taken up by squatters. If that is so, how can we bring services? How can we bring industries? How can we bring commerce? Where would we put them?”
Chairman of the Civil Defence Commission (CDC) for South Liliendaal, Clayton Hinds identified a number of areas in the community which have been neglected by the previous administration. He noted that this has stifled development, making Sophia a ‘depressed community’.
Hinds took the minister to the Practical Instruction Centre which has been set up to provide basic agricultural training for the youths in that area. However, since its establishment in the early 1990s, the building has only been used to facilitate cosmetic training programmes.
Hinds explained that “since then, no real attention or seriousness has been placed here, including the outfit. There is a large block of land, this whole area has been allocated for agricultural purposes for students who attend this place, but you can notice here are big trees and bush.”
They also visited a market tarmac in the South Sophia area, constructed by the previous administration, but had never been utilised for market purposes. Hinds suggested that the tarmac be expanded and that stalls be constructed which would be occupied by vendors who currently have businesses on the Sophia main access road and other areas. The tarmac will be recognised as the central point of business, and will be the local neighbourhood market in Sophia.
Other issues raised about community development include business development, agricultural potential and infrastructure. These will be brought to the attention of the relevant subject ministers by Minister Sharpe-Patterson.