ECD squatters were engaged twice to find amicable solution – Housing Minister

Housing Minister Collin Croal at Success (Photo by Sydel Thomas)

See below statement by Minister of Housing and Water, Collin Croal  

As the Subject Minister of Housing and water, I would like to categorically state that I have done and will continue to ensure that the housing needs of all Guyanese are approached with the utmost urgency and expediency.

With specific reference to the residents currently embattled in a squatting dispute with the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), I will once again like to state for the record that I have personally visited the area twice to meet with the residents and engaged their leaders in discussions to bring this matter to an amicable conclusion.

On Saturday, August 17, 2020, I and a team paid a visit to South Success, East Coast Demerara, in response to claims of illegal squatting. The invitation was from the Chairman of the Better Hope/Success/LBI Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC), Zaman Shaw, who had reported that persons were illegally occupying lands in the area. Upon reviewing official documents, I discovered that the lands being occupied, fell under the purview of NICIL and not the Ministry of Housing and Water. A meeting with the newly appointed Interim Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Radha Krishna Sharma, and I ensued.

Following those discussions on Tuesday, September 8, 2020, I again visited the area along with a team from the Ministry along with Mr. Shaw, and officials from NICIL to meet with residents.

The team cautioned those persons who hailed from Greater Georgetown and the East Coast of Demerara that the lands on which they were erecting structures, including permanent ones, do not belong to the Ministry of Housing and Water or Central Housing & Planning Authority, and that their occupation of said lands remains illegal. This was widely covered in the media.

The illegal occupants were encouraged to form themselves into a team to engage the Ministry to find a way forward. The representatives engaged the Ministry the next day, Wednesday, September 8 2020, at the Ministry offices on Brickdam. At the meeting, the Government’s zero-tolerance position on squatting was further made clear, and residents were told to apply for land through the established process. They were also told that the Ministry would be willing to assist them in every possible respect for a legitimate house lot at an alternative location.

The Ministry of Housing and Water will be hosting an exercise today, October 1, 2020, at the Chateau Margot Primary School geared at assisting these families in their quest for lawful homeownership.

They should walk with a valid form of identification (passport or national identification card), proof or affidavit of income, TIN certificate, and marriage certificate if applicable. For persons with children below the age of 18, copies of their birth certificates are required. Applications forms will also be available at the venue.

The Ministry is committed to facilitating this process as it is the first step in the direction of legally owning a plot of land from the agency. For persons who have an existing application in the Ministry, if there is a need for updated information to be added, this will be facilitated as well. All applications will be dealt with, in due process as we recognise the demand and the need for adequate housing as a fundamental human right.

Throughout the engagement process, my Ministry, along with NICIL representatives, have shown the utmost tolerance in engaging squatters/illegal occupants. The Ministry of Housing and Water remains committed to the Government’s Manifesto promise of the provision of ten thousand house lots annually and would like to assure persons who have applied for housing that the Ministry is doing everything in its power to satisfy the housing needs of all Guyanese.