EYEWITNESS: Land, land everywhere… but folks still squatting on it

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After his piece on the Success Squatting saga yesterday, your Eyewitness was reminded by a friend that this land distribution problem is older than he’d thought.

He was informed that Cain and Abel were the children of Adam and Eve, and (if you believe the story) they had inherited the entire Earth. Now, that’s a lot of real estate, isn’t it? Yet, one explanation for why Cain murdered Abel was a dispute over land!! Which would prove that one can never have enough of that commodity!!

Anyhow the debate over the lands at Success took a new turn when, of all people, Leader of the Opposition (LOO), Joseph Harmon, decided to intervene. Like the proverbial bad penny, he showed up at the now flooded fields and told the holding out squatters who remained with water around their ankles, “There is enough land in this country for everybody to get a piece”!!

The thing to note, of course, is that he was Granger’s second-in-command for FIVE YEARS, and while trumpeting that they came in to face a backlog of 60,000 house lot applications – they did absolutely nothing about that backlog. They just demolished the new squatting settlements that had sprung up like Jumbie Umbrellas between 2015 and 2020. Like the one behind Cummings Lodge, which they uprooted in 2017!

Can they ever match the PPP’s opening up of Diamond, Eccles, Mon Repos, La Parfait Harmonie, Tuschen, Charity New Housing Scheme, Reliance and Henrietta Housing Schemes, Glasgow, Hope, Waterloo, Foulis, Amelia’s Ward, and so many others?

Harmon gratuitously told the PPP Administration that they must “negotiate” with the squatters. Did he and his government “negotiate” with the folks at Cummings Lodge? After all, on housing, they promised in their 2015 manifesto to “Renew the Dream” by facilitating house ownership in addition to house lots. And with the latter, they will insist on basic infrastructure like water, electricity, drainage and roads, before giving out.

Well, your Eyewitness would like Harmon to say how many house lots the PNC gave out in the five years they were in control of the treasury! And let’s not even talk about that fund to give loans to low-income applicants! Or the $8M homes that are still unoccupied! Or the retirement villages for diaspora retirees! Or the starter homes for single parents! Or the National Volunteer Corps to help the needy build homes!

What happened to the 2016 promise of their Chairman of the CH&PA, Hamilton Green, to pump $50B into housing? After the Lands and Surveys only used $21M for meals!!

…but you must have a plan

During their last turn at the wheel, the PPP conducted the largest distribution of house lots in the history of not only of Guyana, but the entire Caribbean. The Housing Schemes mentioned above just offer a flavour of what was achieved under the tenure of Jagdeo and his then Minister of Housing, Irfaan Ali. And you can bet your bottom dollar that they’ll make a reality of their promise to distribute another 50,000 lots in the next five years. And you know why? They have a plan!

The problem with the PNC – in all their incarnations, starting with Burnham – is that they believe that announcing all sorts of objectives is “visionary”. Like his 1972 announcement that he would “House, Feed and Clothe” the nation by 1976. By then the nation had become homeless, hungry and naked!! All of us can have visions – especially after smoking that Jamaican Gold!!

The trick is to be practical and work according to a plan.

Just watch and learn, Harmon!!

…but some hands to work it

If the squatters are really serious about improving their lot, they should sign up for employment at Enmore Estate when it reopens, which is soon.
They’ll need cane cutters, weeders and manure spreaders.