76 ‘west side’ squatters receive land titles after waiting for decades

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By Richard Bhainie

richard.bhainie@newsroom.gy

Seventy-six ‘informal settlers’ of Greenwich Park Railway Embankment, Tuschen Railway Embankment and Uitvlugt – Stewartville, on the West Coast of Demerara received their Certificates of Title to lands on Thursday.

Some of them have been occupying the lands for decades. The titles were distributed to the residents by Minister of Housing and Water, Collin Croal at the Greenwich Park Primary School; it is the first set out of 174 titles to be distributed for the catchment area.

Croal thanked the residents for being cooperative during the process of regularisation as some of them had to shift their boundaries and relocate.

Some of the residents at the land title distribution exercise at the Greenwich Park Primary School (Photo: Ministry of Housing/January 5, 2023)

After an assessment, it was decided that the settlements at Good Hope, Vergenoegen, Philadelphia, Barnwell, Zeelugt, De Willem, Tuschen, Greenwich Park North, and De Kinderen, will be regularised.

“By the end of this first quarter I want to come back with the team to Region Three to be able to hand over those titles,” Croal promised to the 384 residents of the areas left to be regularised.

Baby Ramdauth

The areas were selected for regularisation after the government took into consideration the usage of the land and after assessing its future development and expansion.

However, the Housing Minister used the opportunity to issue a stern warning that no new squatting will be recognised or regularised by the government.

“You have a compassionate and a caring government, you have a loving President who understands your plight and will ensure that resources are made available within the ambit of our total budget to bring development to you as a people,” Croal told the gathering.

“However, there is a right and there is a wrong way of doing things and similarly we have said clearly no new squatting will be recognised,” he emphasised.

The Housing Minister clarified that sea dams that are being illegally occupied cannot be regularised and advised the squatters occupying there to go through the legal procedure to acquire a house lot, which will be issued in due time.

“Sea beds, riverbanks, depending where they are, are no-no’s …If you have a sea defence, that is what is protecting you from erosion and from any possible flooding,” Croal explained.

Misir Roopnarine

Residents who received their titles expressed gratitude to the government for the opportunity to possess ownership of their properties, explaining that they would be able to develop it further.

Baby Ramdauth, a resident of Greenwich Park for 33 years, expressed how happy she felt to receive her Certificate of Title and thanked the government for facilitating the process.

“Each and every one of my family, my children them, they’re so glad that we get the title now,” she said.

Hemwantie Persaud, a resident of Uitvlugt Railway Embankment for 50 years, who inherited the property from her parents, expressed gratitude to President Dr. Irfaan Ali. She said she will now be able to pass down the property to her two children.

Sixty-seven-year-old Misir Roopnarine of Uitvlugt Railway Embankment said he was waiting for his Certificate of Title to commence repairs on his property.

“I’ve been waiting for this thing a long, long time now boy. All my family dead out … only me alone left now, so I’m very thankful to everybody, the government, the people from housing,” Roopnarine said.

Bibi Farida Khan

Bibi Farida Khan, a resident of Uitvlugt Railway Embankment for 63 years, also said she was very happy to finally receive her title after making the necessary payments for it seven years ago.

Parliamentary Secretary, Vickash Ramkissoon; Regional Chairman, Ishan Ayube and Director of Community Development at the Central Housing and Planning Authority, Gladwin Charles were also at the event.

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