Access Road demolition: Linden squatters get financial compensation from Govt

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At least 20 Linden, Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice) families who were affected by a demolition exercise in Phase 4, Amelia’s Ward Housing Scheme, have received monetary compensatory packages from the Housing and Water Ministry.

The affected families were invited to sign their agreements and uplift their cheques on Thursday at Watooka House in Linden, according to the Ministry. The cheques were presented by Housing and Water Minister Collin Croal.

The Minister thanked the beneficiaries for their patience exhibited throughout the process. He also used the opportunity to remind them that the Ministry will continue to work to fulfil the housing demand in Region 10 and outlined several housing development plans for the region.

Housing and Water Minister Collin Croal presenting a compensatory package and agreement to one of the squatters

Further noting that squatting should not be an alternative for citizens, Croal posited that the housing drive will continue to be extended to every region. He also called on persons to be more responsible and desist from squatting.

In early May of this year, the Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) had conducted a demolition exercise in Phase 4, Amelia’s Ward, which has been earmarked for infrastructure development by the Ministry of Housing and Water.

During the exercise, however, two habitable structures were demolished, while other structures including fences and foundations were also removed. The structures were in the path of an access road. To date, some of the affected persons have been offered house lots while two have opted for housing units.

Immediately after the demolition exercise, Chief Executive Officer of the CH&PA, Sherwyn Greaves met with the persons who had taken up illegal occupancy in the area. A commitment was made for those persons to be offered lands and alternative housing options. These offers were accepted, followed by an independent valuation exercise which was done by the Ministry of Finance’s Valuation Office in June.

But prior to this agreement, several officials including Minister with the Housing Ministry Susan Rodrigues had met with the affected persons.

At one of those engagements, the CH&PA Head had explained that while the demolition exercise was unfortunate, it was necessary as the area was earmarked for a new thoroughfare and the agency could no longer sit by and hold back development.

Moreover, he had stated that when the occupational survey was done in mid-2021, there were no structures in the path of the road and the squatters in the area were advised against erecting new structures as well as making additions to existing structures.

It was previously reported that of the 16 informal settlements, only two habitable structures existed at the time of demolition, while the other structures varied from chain-link fences to wooden and concrete foundations.

While the affected persons have agreed to the suggested resolution to the matter, the CEO had pointed out that the issue of squatting is causing major setbacks in the housing drive for the region.

He noted that while there are genuine instances where persons are forced to occupy lands illegally, this practice cannot and would not be encouraged.

Greaves had further explained, “last year we allocated 400 house lots in Amelia’s Ward and we cannot give persons access to those lots because of those persons who are squatting. Now we have to move around that and we have to constantly be changing our plan and it is unfair to those 400 people to be affecte