Housing Minister commits to expediting relocation of Cummings Lodge squatters

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With an April 10, 2021 deadline set, Minister of Housing and Water, Colin Croal, has committed to expediting the relocation of the squatters illegally occupying the lands at the soon to be new Cummings Lodge Housing Development.

A final warning was issued on Monday to those occupying portions on plots 1767 and 1768; they were told to immediately move their structures since it hampering the construction of the new housing development, which will cater for 190 low-income families.

After a visit on Wednesday by the minister and a team from the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA), a subsequent statement detailed that a total of 11 squatters are set to be relocated.

A house of one of the squatters at the housing development in Cummings Lodge (Photo: Ministry of Housing/April 7, 2021)

When the News Room visited the area on Wednesday, construction was in full swing with a few of the shoddy structures scattered across the soon to be housing area.

One inhabitant, Lisa, explained that she and her family of eight have been living on the land for close to two years, with “nowhere else to go.”

While they were informed of the relocation, she stated not many details were given as to what that process would entail.

Another inhabitant, Hansel Heliegen, expressed similar sentiments.

Construction ongoing at the housing development in Cummings Lodge (Photo: Ministry of Housing/April 7, 2021)

“I’ve been here for actually three months now and this land was unoccupied and because I had nowhere to go, I come and cut down here and start farming and build a farmhouse and eventually end up living here. They told us that they moving us somewhere but we ain’t know nothing much and we ain’t get nowhere to go so when they break this down, what will happen to us?” Heliegen told the News Room.

Minister Croal, during his visit to the area, highlighted the government’s commitment to providing housing for all, giving his commitment that squatters will be relocated quickly.

“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.

Housing and Water Minister, Collin Croal, during his visit to the Cummings Lodge Housing Development area (Photo: Ministry of Housing/April 7, 2021)

“They were served notices to remove and we have had our Community Development Department working with them,” the Minister explained.

Initial reports according to CH&PA noted that 13 contravention notices were served on the occupants of 13 structures observed by CH&PA on August 20, 2020. By August 27, 2020, 22 structures were then observed and a demolition exercise was executed 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.

Based on interaction with the squatters, the ministry said eight have applications within the CH&PA system, while another three are in the process of formally applying to facilitate the relocation process.

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