Mocha residents cannot dictate who moves into their community – Min. Yearwood
Minister with responsibility for Housing, Valerie Patterson-Yearwood says she cannot allow Mocha residents to dictate whether the Lombard/Broad Street squatters will move into their community.
The Chairman of the Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC), Rudolph Adams had raised concerns about the nature of the squatters and the social implications it would have on their village but the Minister contended that the Mocha residents must not discriminate.
“I don’t know what’s the reason for the discrimination because Guyanese are Guyanese and we cannot discriminate against people. If we allow the residents of Mocha to determine whether or not we relocate these people there, then every area and every village in Guyana will have to determine who comes next to them and government cannot allow that,” she told reporters during a recent press conference.
The junior Communities Minister admitted that the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) might have taken the wrong approach by not consulting with the NDC beforehand but she explained that it was a matter of urgency.
According to the Minister, the residents are actually dwelling on private land and that they were given eviction notices.
“They were given very short notices to remove…government could have not just stand by and allow those persons to be evicted and to be thrown on the road, on the streets of Georgetown with nowhere to go,” she said.
In collaboration with the Food for the Poor organization, the CH&PA will be constructing 72 houses in Barnwell aback Mocha, East Bank Demerara (EBD) to accommodate some 49 families from Lombard/Broad Streets.
But the NDC Chairman raised concerns about the dumping of an entire village into theirs especially when Mocha residents have been waiting for years for their own house lots.
But the Minister assured that of the 72 houses to be constructed for the squatters, about 15 of them will be given to the less fortunate Mocha residents.
She noted too that Mocha residents will be given priority regarding the distribution of remaining lands in Mocha.
Minister Patterson-Yearwood also promised that the other concerns of the NDC will be addressed. These include issues regarding healthcare, education, drainage and irrigation, roads, and electricity.
But the NDC Chairman had argued that those promises should not be part of the bargain as amenities such as healthcare, education, drainage and irrigation, roads, and electricity should be key components of any housing scheme.
The NDC Chairman had also raised concerns about the government going back on its promise to guarantee local democracy free from central government’s intrusion.
When contacted by News Room, the Chairman said he will be meeting with the other councillors and residents later today to discuss whether they will be taking the matter to the recently established Local Government Commission (LGC).
The Commission is mandated to deal with a range of issues, including the resolving disputes of the country’s NDCs, the Georgetown Mayor and City Council and other towns.