Once serving as the Minister with responsibility for Housing under the APNU+AFC Government, Member of Parliament Annette Ferguson on Thursday added her voice to the ongoing issue involving scores of squatters currently occupying lands at Success, East Coast Demerara.
Ferguson in a strongly worded statement said the People’s Progressive Party Government must discontinue efforts to remove the squatters from the lands which belong to the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) and for which the company now needs as part of its revitalization efforts.
She contended that the regularisation of the Success squatting area is the “more sensible” thing to do.
“Urgent action is needed to regularize the squatters at Success, I repeat, urgent action is needed to regularise the squatters at Success,” Ferguson said during a virtual press briefing.
The former Minister criticised the Government for what she said was a reckless and heartless approach to have the squatters removed.
Several notices were issued to the squatters by GuySuCo pleading with them to remove from the lands as the company looks to make a big comeback in sugar cultivation.
Failure by the squatters to remove led to the Police and relevant authorities moving in to remove an access bridge and demolish structures.
GuySuCo had issued one final notice for the squatters to remove by October 5 with threats to flood the lands if they didn’t move by that day but even those threats did little to move the squatters.
GuySuCo had said that over 17,000 plants of various varieties were destroyed putting the company at risk of losing some $2 billion in revenue.
Even with the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) engaging the squatters to help with relocation, Ferguson insists that the best plan would be to have the squatters remain there and the areas now regularized and the proper infrastructure put in.
Ferguson said the issue never came up when she served as Minister as she empathized with the squatters who she said are in dire need of housing.
Squatting has been an issue that both past and current Governments have had to deal with.
Ferguson said the former Government had hoped to abolish squatting by its second term.
“We had plans to set up a National Squatter Resettling Commission to end homelessness in Guyana once and for all,” she added.