Eyewitness: Squatting…

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…and living

For a country in which its population has pretty much remained stagnant for the last forty years, (770,000 in 1980 and same today!) how do you explain all this squatting for house-lots? Surely, if we were all housed in 1980 (after Burnham’s “feed, house and clothed the nation programme), the same number of houses should be able to give us all shelter now, right? And when you toss in all those humungous housing schemes that were created during the PPP’s 23 years in office – from 1992 to 2015, with at least 60,000 housing lots – surely that would’ve covered the fact that maybe the families are smaller and need extra housing units?

But here we have it – there are those squatters at Success, on the East Coast of Demerara, who insist they just don’t have anywhere to go to put their heads down but those flimsy hovels they created out of flotsam and jetsam seemingly washed ashore. Where did they come from to occupy this cane field that was the site of experimental cane varieties for the sugar industry? While the Enmore/LBI sugar estate might’ve been closed down in 2017 by the PNC, the experimental varieties would still be needed for the running estates.

Your Eyewitness has been trying to get to the bottom of this mystery. He found out that there are several categories of squatters. Some of them have been there for years – at least since the estate’s closure. They were basically jumping the line of those who’ve applied for house-lots years ago. But the question arises: What was NICIL doing – especially its Special Purposes Unit (SPU) that was formed specifically to deal with GuySuCo’s shuttered estates’ property? Were they too busy spending the $30 billion they borrowed – fixing up the Managers’ Club at Ogle? Didn’t they notice those squatters? After all, the PNC Government had moved out those from behind Cummings Lodge.

Then there are those who suddenly appeared out of the woodwork when word spread like wildfire – like when gold used to be found back in the days of the Wild West! “There’s gold in them thar hills!!” And this is where matters get interesting. Some of these land squatters were Guyanese who’d returned from Venezuela and were landless for sure. You could see the stark desperation in their eyes. Now the Government received some US$5 million from the US to deal with “Venezuelan refugees”. Don’t these folks qualify? Some of that money should be used to help them out.

But the last lot (excuse the pun!) are the most interesting: these are the “plants” by the PNC. Some of them with heart-rending stories of deprivation – never mind those stories have been proven to have holes elsewhere!!

But the PPP Govt has to be tagged as “heartless”!

…on the election petitions

Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George held the Case Management Meeting on the PNC’s two election petitions, arising, they claim, from the March 2 elections. Your Eyewitness is still wondering what happens to the PPP’s election petition from the 2015 elections. Is it now moot? Overtaken by events? Somebody should say so definitively. The law must be certain, no?

Anyhow, as far as your Eyewitness is concerned, the most salient announcement that came out of the meeting had nothing to do with the timings for submissions, which stretch out from Nov 5 all the way to Jan 5 next year. That’s all mechanical. The Chief Justice pleased your Eyewitness when she announced: “Parties can call for elections documents to be produced.”

This means, of course, that the PNC (at long last) WILL HAVE TO THEN PRODUCE THEIR SOPs upon request!! And as they asserted, these will, of course, match the numbers produced by Mingo!!

The PNC wouldn’t lie, would they??

…mushrooming

Just when the Government might’ve thought they were making headway on the squatting at the Success front, up comes news that squatters at Sara Johanna on the East Bank Demerara are now protesting for “regularisation”.

Why is no one surprised?