Minister of Housing and Water, Collin Croal, says farmers of Cummings Lodge 1767, whose lands were destroyed during the clearing of lands for housing development, are being compensated.
The Minister on Monday visited the area where he assured affected farmers that long-term compensation is on the cards. Farmers are being asked to consider an option to own and cultivate their lands, or secure employment through the housing or other infrastructural developments in the community.
“As a result, we are at a stage now where having calculated the level of crops that are there, the type of crops that are there…through CPA [Central Housing and Planning Authority] we are now at a compensatory stage and so I want to encourage the farmers to ensure that they’re part of the collaboration process.”
According to a press release from the CH&PA, the compensation has already been handed over in the form of cheques to each farmer.
Meanwhile, Minister within the Ministry of Housing and Water, Susan Rodrigues, said the Government will come to a peaceful resolution that will be beneficial and satisfying to the farmers.
“We came into conflict with, of course, those of you who are here today, who have been living off of the land, planting and sustaining your livelihood with this land. We do not want to come in the way of that,” she said.
The Minister also said Sophia would not be left out of development and no resident left dissatisfied. Therefore, the Ministry has taken the decision to engage them on finding solutions to move forward.
Meanwhile, some farmers told DPI they are thankful for the compensation and would like to return to the farmlands.
Mr. Revon Hoynes said he agreed with the compensation. “They have come to a compensation with us, which we agree because fighting is not what we are. We are farmers.”
Another farmer, Mr. Emerson Gilbert said, “I just thankful for it cause we was farming for years and we would still like to know that we could still get we farm and we could still get we land and those things.”
Several construction projects are ongoing in the Sophia community which has created hundreds of job opportunities and investments. Currently, some $51 million is being expended for the construction of a multi-purpose recreational facility and over $550 million is being used for road works and infrastructural developments.
Also, close to 200 moderate, low-income houses are in various phases of construction in a project that will extend all the way to Eccles, East Bank Demerara.