Success Squatters say they invested too much to relocate now
By Kurt Campbell
Scores of squatters were Thursday morning pushing back against proposals by the Ministry of Housing to have them relocate from lands they are currently occupying unlawfully.
Gathered in large groups to demand compassion from the Government, the squatters say they have invested too much in the structures they erected and furnished to be relocated now.
Officials of the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) moved in to appease the agitated squatters occupying the lands that belong to the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) along the East Coast of Demerara, particularly in Vryheids Lust, Success and Chateau Margot.
The Housing authorities were greeted with long lines of citizens when they arrived at the Chateau Margot Primary School as they sought to fast-track existing housing applications and offer the convenience of new housing applications, free of cost.
Minister of Housing Collin Croal in a statement on Thursday said The Ministry is committed to facilitating the process of lawful homeownership as it is the first step in the direction of legally owning a plot of land from the agency.
The News Room Spoke with Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the CH&PA Sherwyn Greaves who explained that a total of 22 locations are currently being prepared for housing development throughout the country and these squatters will likely find a place there.
“These are lands that CH&PA had and it’s unfortunate that the previous administration didn’t see it fit to do works on those lands but we are going to do work and these are lands that stretches all along the East Coast, East Bank, Berbice, West Coast, West Bank, Essequibo and Linden. All those areas, lots will be created and we also will build units; 22,000 units we will be building,” he added.
The CEO was stern on pointing out that while every citizen is entitled to homeownership, there is a process that must be followed and squatting remains illegal.
“We are here to fulfil our mandate that all Guyanese who apply and meet the requirement get house lots, the Government has made a commitment to give out 50, 000 house lots in the next five years and these people here will be part of that 50,000,” he added.
Mr Greaves assured that those persons who have already applied for house lots will have their application fast-tracked while those who are now making new applications will also be dealt within a short time frame.
“We can’t ignore a housing issue…for those now applying it will be unfair to have them be put ahead but because our mandate and the Government’s promise of 50,000 house lots in five years they will be dealt within a short time,” he explained.
On Wednesday the Police and protestors clashed when a bridge that gives access to the area was being demolished.
That led to the Police to use tear gas and pellets to disperse the squatters who were gathered in large numbers.
GuySuCo has also issued a statement saying that it needed the land as it looks to revitalize its operations.