Minister within the Ministry of Housing and Water, Susan Rodrigues, has disclosed that there is currently a backlog of some 3500 applications for house lots in Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice) and now efforts are being undertaken to acquire 5000 acres of land to satisfy housing needs there.
During a visit to Region Five on Friday, Minister Rodrigues explained that when the PPP/C Administration took office last year, there were no measures in place to address this growing housing need in the region.
As such, the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) has identified approximately 5000 acres of land for the development of new housing areas in the Mahaica-Berbice region.
It was noted that the Housing Ministry is now working along with the Mahaica Mahaicony Abary-Agricultural Development Authority (MMA-ADA) and Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) to acquire these land.
Through these agencies, some 770 acres of prime land has been identified at Shieldstown, Rosignol, for which the Minister stated that the MMA-ADA has indicated their readiness to begin the acquisition process.
Another 53 acres of land under the purview of the Authority has also been identified for residential and commercial lots, as well as high-income housing in Fort Wellington. In addition, there are 2000 acres of land at Dantzig which is already outfitted with the necessary utilities such as water and electricity.
Meanwhile, in the referendum squatting area, Minister Rodrigues committed to the speedy resolution of ownership issues faced by residents.
Some 40 households are occupying the lands, which is currently owned by GuySuCo. According to the Housing Minister, discussions are currently ongoing for the lands to be transferred to the Ministry.
It was noted that while no permanent solution has been put in place, two routes are being explored, that is, firstly the transferal of over 1000 acres of land to transform the area into a new housing scheme, or the transferal and regularisation of the area specific to informal settlers only.
“If we were to get even half of the lands that we’ve identified to transfer, we would be able to satisfy the housing demand in Region Five,” Minister Rodrigues stated. She further added that designs for the housing area will begin as soon as the transfer is effective.
Additionally, the Housing Ministry is working to expand the Experiment Housing Scheme by 1000 acres. The first phase of the scheme is now 80 per cent occupied and the growing housing demand outgrows the scheme’s capability.
Following the site visits in Region Five on Friday, Minister Rodrigues along with the Permanent Secretary of the Housing and Water Ministry, Andre Ally, held two community meetings in Blairmont and Bush Lot, where residents were informed of the new developments and given the opportunity to voice concerns in the housing and water sector.
Residents raised concerns relating to land titling and transports, house lot allocations and water services. A number of these issues were addressed on the spot by the Minister, while she committed to dealing with others in a timely manner.
A team of representatives from the Central Housing and Planning Authority and the Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI) were also present to assist in the resolution of these issues raised.
The ministerial team was also accompanied by Government’s Parliamentary Representative of Region Five, Faizal Jafferally, and Region Five Regional Housing Officer, Krisendat Balkaran.
Meanwhile, Minister Rodrigues also facilitated the handing-over of a number of street lights to the Blairmont/Gelderland Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) during Friday’s visit to Region Five.
In keeping with its manifesto promise of 10,000 house lots every year for the next five years, the PPP/C Government since entering office in August 2020 has been working aggressively to meet the housing needs of Guyanese and fulfil its commitment.
In fact, only in March, the CH&PA awarded some 199 contracts amounting to a total of $13.9 billion to start infrastructure works and construction of housing units in Regions Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara), Four (Demerara-Mahaica), Five and Six (East Berbice-Corentyne).