Sarah Johanna squatters, asked to move, appeal for further help
Squatters residing at Sarah Johanna on the East Bank of Demerara (EBD) have been served with a notice from the landowner, asking them to vacate the lands this week.
With nowhere to go, they are appealing for any assistance that can be provided to them.
Many of the squatters have been living in a swampy area aback Sarah Johanna for several years but the four acres of land they are occupying are privately-owned.
And last week, the squatters were served a notice asking them to vacate the area within seven days. The notice, seen by the News Room, noted that their failure to move would prompt legal proceedings without further notice.
Because the squatters have been living in this area for a number of years, a team of government ministers met with them in 2020, seeking to provide some relief.
At the meeting, the squatters were encouraged to apply for houselots at the Ministry of Housing and Water. And on Sunday, a few of the residents said that they had indeed received the house lots and paid for it, but were awaiting word on when they could relocate there.
“With all due respect, we will move, because we already made payments for our land.
“Is not like we don’t want to move from here, because the facilities are very bad. We need to move, we will move but we need time to move,” Evelyn Singh, a woman who has been living at Sarah Johanna for about 20 years, told the News Room on Sunday.
Singh was one of the squatters offered land at the developing Golden Grove housing scheme on the East Bank of Demerara (EBD). She has already made a down-payment for the land.
Minister within the Ministry of Housing and Water Susan Rodrigues told the News Room that the ministry sought to provide speedy assistance to these squatters after the meeting in 2020.
And according to her, many of them received land allocations in the Grove/ Diamond area on the East Bank.
“That area is currently being prepared, it is not ready for them to occupy as yet,” Minister Rodrigues said on Sunday.
She added, “And the others, we will try to deal with their application shortly. [We] couldn’t deal with everybody at the same time, they’re all new applicants and we are trying to address our backlog.”
Christina Calvern, another squatter who has been residing in the area for the past 12 years and Tamica Hill, who has been living there for 11 years, are among those hoping to get land allocations.
While they await those allocations, they said that they are unable to vacate Sarah Johanna.
“We does mine we lil fowl, duck and so… we can’t go by people and mine them things,” Calvern said.
She also explained that she cannot afford to rent someplace while she awaits an allocation.
Onika Barry, another squatter, said that she received an allocation but could not pay for it since she was laid off during the pandemic. She said that she and her eight children and four grandchildren need a place to live.
The squatters are appealing for some further leniency from the landowner. Otherwise, they have asked for assistance from anyone who is able to help them.