The Central Housing and Planning Authority’s (CH&PA) says it will not be deterred and will continue to enforce its strict zero tolerance policy on squatting, even as persons who are desperate for their own living accommodations continue to engage in the act of occupying government lands illegally.
Minister within the Ministry of Communities with responsibility for housing, Valerie Adams-Patterson in an interview with the Government Information Agency (GINA) said that the CH&PA’s enforcement officers recently carried out an exercise in Sophia, Georgetown. “As recent as two weeks ago, my team went in there, because after I visited and I did a television programme asking persons, not to continue squatting and told them that we are looking at ways and means to address the issue, we noted that many persons went in after that, and put up new structures. So the enforcement department went in,” the Minister said.
“We are not in the business of putting people on the roads, but they were new structures. Some you could just see the frames, and so the officers went in,” the Minister said.
Minister Adams-Patterson explained that the enforcement officers were accompanied by two police officers, but that “was not enough, because the report I got is that people swarmed them, and wanted to beat the staff and beat the police and so they had to retreat.”
During the earlier visit to the community, the enforcement officers who had accompanied Minister Adams-Patterson met with squatters living in existing buildings in the community. The officers had marked those buildings and identified the persons living within, for the Ministry’s rent to own homes that will soon come on stream. Hence, Minister Adams-Patterson explained that in the new exercise none of the old structures were touched.
“We cannot continue to operate the way we have been operating, order has to come, and if we are trying to do it in a decent manner, and people don’t want to cooperate with us then we have to bring the hammer down. That is not what we want to do, we want to work with people and bring order. So I am appealing to all Guyanese because it is not only happening in Sophia, stop the squatting, we know we have issues with land allocation, we are working on it. Stop the squatting,” the Minister urged.