Housing Minister Collin Croal, along with the Better Hope Neighbourhood Council Chairman Zaman Shaw, and officials from the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited, this morning engaged persons who have been illegally taking up lands at South Success, East Coast Demerara, over the last three weeks.
The team cautioned those persons who hail from as far as Sophia and Ann’s Grove, that the lands on which they are erecting structures, including permanent ones, does not belong to the Ministry of Housing and Water or Central Housing & Planning Authority, and that their occupation of said lands remains illegal.
Croal however requested of the individuals to properly organise themselves, and be prepared to engage a team of officials from the Ministry of Housing and Water, who will visit with them on Thursday to take the necessary information required to ensure that their housing needs are addressed.
The citizens, in raising their concerns with the Housing Minister, said that many of them are finding it hard to survive given the global pandemic, as their jobs have been placing them on rotation which reduces their hours of work and ultimately their take-home pay.
Others have indicated that they have been unable to keep up with their rent obligations, coupled with caring for their families.
The group of persons who are currently illegally occupying the state lands stretches across the race divide. Croal made it clear to them that government has no immediate plans to forcefully remove them from the area, but hopes that with dialogue and a system which is being put in place, they will understand that what they are doing is illegal, and that it cannot be supported by the State.
“Let me tell you something, Mr. Minister, we are not here because we want to squat or because we want to give the government a hard time, we are here because of the desperation; it is desperation and dislocation that has us here, we don’t want to be here,” one woman told the Minister as she received loud cheers from other squatters.
The Housing Minister assured the gathering that there is enough land available to be issued for housing purposes, but there is a process, and everything related to this – including the works which would be carried out on the land in preparation for allocation – will be soon communicated with the population.