See full statement from the Ministry of Housing and Water
The Ministry of Housing and Water – Central Housing and Planning Authority again wishes to put on record that it will not be deterred from its mandate of realizing dreams of affordable home ownership for all Guyanese. The Ministry takes note of the most recent attack on its programs and policy by Opposition Parliamentarian Annette Ferguson, one of the three APNU members who enjoyed a short stint as Ministers with responsibility for Housing, in the game of musical chairs at the agency which they had reduced to the Department of Housing, under the Ministry of Communities. Ms. Ferguson’s letter to the editor in the Stabroek News, dated August 14, 2021 under the caption “The APNU/AFC created a sound housing sector strategy” is quite rib-tickling and riddled with inaccuracies. Ms. Ferguson through her letter sought, among other things to discredit the work of the Ministry and by extension the government during its first year in office, for the housing sector. While Ms. Ferguson is critiquing the government’s accomplishments in its first year, she failed to mention or maybe is too ashamed to admit that it’s more than what her government did in their five years and five stolen months.
The facts and records will show that during the APNU/AFC’s stint in office they merely developed three housing schemes, that is Peter’s Hall, Prospect Track ‘E’ and Providence 125. Every other allocation made under Ms. Ferguson and her colleagues’ watch were done in existing schemes which were designed and developed prior to 2015. According to information produced by the opposition MP, she claimed that her party secured a combined total of 409 acres of land for house lot allocation in Lethem, Kwakwani, Amelia’s Ward and Wisroc. This is far from the truth, in Kwakwani this government found that the land which was only identified, was unfit for housing and has since commenced the process to secure new and suitable lands to fulfill the housing need for persons in that area. Wisroc was never vested to the Ministry and the same can be said for Lethem and Amelia’s Ward as the ownership for these lands were still questionable up until late 2020. While some allocations were done under the previous Government in Amelia’s Ward, these allocations were done from open lands that were in the existing scheme and in some instances, there remains issue with the ownership.
Ms. Ferguson like her other colleagues has a very bad relationship with truths, in her letter she produced tables purporting to show twenty-one (21) new housing areas, again supposedly developed under her government. The Guyanese people know that Recht-Door-Zee and Onderneeming schemes on the West Bank of Demerara were developed under the then Housing Minister, now President H.E. Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali. Ms. Ferguson should be ashamed to speak to allocation in Recht-Door-Zee, since she converted a site which was set aside for a burial ground, to house lots and allocated them. The lands allocated at Oderneeming were also open lands that were
already developed since the commencement of the scheme. Ferguson also in her letter sought to take praise for the developments in the Perseverance Housing Scheme, but she must be reminded that it was the PPP/C administration who established that scheme with the 1000 homes Project. That scheme was conceptualized and successfully delivered by the then Minister and current President, H.E. Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali. The other areas, including Annandale, Mon Repos, La Bonne Intention, Non Pareil, Ordinance Fortlands the issue of ownership is now being addressed by this new government. When the PPP/C government took office, the Ministry of Housing was saddled with a number of land ownership issues since, thousands of Guyanese had letters stating they have been issued lands but years had passed and they were unable to get ownership documents or even locate the lots. In the absence of ownership document, it is almost impossible for an allottee to approach a bank for a mortgage, this is one of the two factors that resulted in low occupancy the in these schemes which Ferguson boasted about developing. All of these schemes lacked the basic infrastructure, in fact they were all large open lands with heavy vegetation but are now being developed under the Ministry’s 2021 budget and work program. The allocations which Ferguson referred to in her letter were a political gimmick in the lead up to 2020 election as these allocations were done in January and February 2020. In most of these areas, no designs nor surveys were done, they were all virgin lands for which the Ministry had no jurisdiction over.
It was widely reported in the media that Minister Collin Croal went back to the national assembly for a supplementary budget to fast-track works in these 21 housing schemes, in a move to fast tract the Government housing drive. Altogether the Ministry will be expending $13 B to bring these 21 areas which Ferguson boasts about, to the desired state for persons to occupy.
These infrastructure works will be done for house lot allocations in the following areas: Anna Catherina, Cornelia’s Ida, Edinburgh, Meten-Meer-Zorg and Stewartville (Region Three); Mon Repos, Vigilance, Bladen Hall, Strathspey, La Bonne Intention, Cummings Lodge, Great Diamond, Little Diamond, Prospect, Providence (Region Four); and Experiment, Williamsburg, Hampshire, No. 79 Village, No. 75 Village and Ordnance/Fortlands (Region Five and Six).
Further, to this the construction for almost 500 housing units has begun in under one year, a noteworthy accomplishment compared to the coalition’s poor delivery. This includes 40 in Amelia’s Ward, Linden; 100 in Prospect, East Bank Demerara and 140 in Cummings Lodge, Georgetown for low-income earners, as well as, 200 young professional homes in Providence and Prospect, East Bank Demerara. All together this will complement the President’s plan for the construction of 1000 houses. Under this housing program almost $2 billion is being
expended. This is in keeping with the government’s manifesto promise of providing homes for youths and low-income earners, as Ms. Ferguson is au fait with.
Unlike the coalition’s lackluster housing plan, which has resulted in the inoccupation of turnkey homes in Experiment, Region Five, all of these homes are built on serviced house lots. As a matter of fact, all housing areas being developed under the current administration feature infrastructure works such as the construction and upgrading of access roads, bridges and culverts, drainage and irrigation systems and access to basic utilities such as water and electricity. All areas are also designed to include zoning for commercial, residential and recreational spaces, as part of a sustainable housing development plan. The demand for lands remains at an all-time high and the Ministry is working with a strategic plan to meet this demand while simultaneously executing infrastructure development works in new and existing housing schemes throughout the country. The Ministry’s flagship program “Dream Realised” will continue to serve its intended purpose to deliver 50,000 house lots over the next four years.