Eccles to Great Diamond Highway Project: 5 Mocha squatters being removed from Govt reserves – Housing Ministry

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The area at Cane View/Herstelling (Mocha) that is being occupied by squatters, who are hindering the Eccles to Great Diamond Highway Project

…after continuously refusing to relocate, rejecting compensation

Following months of continuous and baseless rejection of Government’s compensation offers for them to relocate from the Cane View/Herstelling (Mocha), East Bank Demerara area, the Ministry of Housing on Saturday started to remove the five persons squatting on the stretch of Government reserves that is the pathway of the new Eccles to Great Diamond Highway Project.

More than 25 Mocha squatters have already been relocated from the area, and according to the Housing Ministry, there are five persons who remain on the land and have refused the compensation packages offered by Government. These are: Joyann Alexis Ellis, Mark Gordan, Junior Ellis, Abigail Ifill and Anneita Beaton.

In a public notice issue on Thursday, November 24, the Ministry said the lands being occupied illegally by these persons is stymieing development of the Eccles to Great Diamond Highway Project that seeks to ease traffic congestion on the East Bank Demerara corridor.

“Five individuals remain non-compliant, refusing to engage and continue to stall this development plan. As such, the following persons were given 2 weeks final notice from November 5th to vacate. These notices have all been ignored. Every effort by the Ministry has been met with harsh, baseless and irrational resistance,” the Ministry explained in the notice.

Despite their stance of refusing to engage Government, however, the Housing Ministry pointed out in the notice that the offer still stands with move-in ready single flat two-bedroom houses being available in the Little Diamond Housing Scheme.

Moreover, these five squatters have also been offered full compensation for their illegal properties at Cane View/Herstelling, a free residential house lot and a grace period to facilitate construction of their new homes – all of which have been continuously rejected.
To this end, the notice indicated that while Government is ready to work with all Guyanese for their best interest, it will no longer stand by and allow the nation’s development to be held hostage by illegal activities.

“Should the last offer be rejected by these illegal squatters, the Ministry will have no other choice but to proceed with a demolition exercise,” Thursday’s final notice further detailed.

Consequently, on Saturday morning, the Housing Ministry went ahead with that exercise to start removing the squatters.

Only two weeks ago, Housing Minister Collin Croal had called out the APNU/AFC Opposition for urging the persons occupying the Government reserves not to relocate.

Leader of the Opposition Aubrey Norton, during a recent visit to the area, had urged the five remaining squatters on the reserve to remain, stating that the area is ‘ancestral lands’.

Croal had stated that extensive work was done to ensure the residents were relocated to developed housing schemes and were adequately compensated based on the market value of their structures.

As such, he described the Opposition’s statement as “reckless”, noting that the APNU/AFC is not interested in the development and upliftment of the very people it claims to represent.

“Those persons [the squatters] would have never been able to be regularised or have a document for ownership, as well as to [be able to] apply for utility in terms of electricity and water…,” the Minister stated.

Croal further noted that the process to remove the squatters was done in a way to minimise living disruption of the families while making sure that homeownership is legally achieved as a means of building generational wealth.

Some of the residents who were relocated to the Farm-Herstelling housing areas have begun construction of their new homes, while others have already completed their structures.

Meanwhile, with regards to the progress of other sections of the new Eccles to Great Diamond Highway, the Housing Minister indicated that “the lots are moving well, it is only this one lot that must be addressed”.

“Work has started on both ends of the highway, but the squatters are in the middle of the lots, which is impeding completion of the new four-lane highway alignment,” Croal had said.