20 of 59 ‘unoccupied’ structures demolished in ‘no-fly zone’ at Sophia

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After several warnings, the Ministry of Housing and Water/Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) on Tuesday demolished 20 ‘unoccupied’ and ‘incomplete’ structures at Cummings Park, Sophia.

The News Room was informed that the structures were erected on reserve land which is considered “zero tolerance” since it falls in the Eugene F. Correia International Airport no-fly zone.

The move comes after members of the CH&PA enforcement unit and officials from the airport visited the location on several occasions in the last two months and engaged persons on the construction of the unauthorized structures.

During the interactions, the News Room was told that the residents were warned to “cease” from building the structures.

Several signs were also posted at the location informing persons to keep off from the land.

But despite this, the residents disregarded the warnings and proceeded to erect new structures.

So, on Tuesday, members of the CH&PA demolished the structures.

In an invited comment, Minister of Housing and Water Collin Croal said only 20 of the 58 structures were demolished since the others are occupied.

Since this is so, Croal said the process requires that the remaining occupants be dealt with “differently”.

“The area in which they are trying to squat is considered zero tolerance because it’s between the Ogle airstrip… So in any case we would not be able to regularize anybody there,” Croal said.

Croal emphasized that before the structures were demolished all of the residents were warned and encouraged to apply for lands through the correct process.

“All persons occupying there were forewarned that there is a process in how we deal with applications for lands you can’t just take up every land available and believe that this is yours.

“They were all told that they have to come into the ministry, do their necessary application and to be addressed like how anyone else is being dealt with for pending applicants,” Croal told the News Room.

Those affected by Tuesday’s action subsequently engaged in a protest outside the Ministry of Housing and Water’s Brickdam location.

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