Investigation to be launched into house lot controversies

Minister of Housing and Water Collin Croal
Minister of Housing and Water Collin Croal

The Housing Ministry will soon launch an investigation into what is suspected to be a house lot racket involving its Essequibo Office, whereby persons were paying for house lots but the monies were not being remitted to the state.

This is according to Minister of Housing and Water Collin Croal, who was taking part in a “Dream Realised” housing drive in Anna Regina. Following the outreach, the Minister was asked about persons who have been waiting for some time for their titles and other matters to be looked after.

“That has also been an issue. What we’re doing is to ensure that a thorough investigation is done before we can process those titles. We’ve had cases of persons who paid for their land but those monies were not remitted to the State and that is why you had for years these matters held up.”

“And we’ve taken a conscious decision of dealing with them case by case and I’m sure persons will be pleased to know that we will be able to rectify once a thorough investigation is done to process their titles and transport,” the Minister said.

Croal also noted that Government will be paying keen attention to the functioning of the regional housing office and noted that he will be visiting the new facility. He further explained that they have increased the staff complement and also the quality of staff.

When it comes to the Dream Realised event, Croal explained that they have been able to allocate over 300 lots. According to him, no one was turned away. Additionally, a number of lots have been reserved as they conduct investigations into individual issues.

“We’ve just completed two days here in Essequibo. This is phase one of our allocation for 2021. Our next allocation exercise, at the appropriate time, will be at Charity. And it’s been a successful activity.”

“I know Essequibo Coast has not been hearing much for a while about our plans and programmes in terms of land allocation for Region Two. So over the two days, we’ve seen over 1000 persons who came into the facility for one reason or another, inclusive of for allocations,” the Minister also said.

But he noted that there have been instances where persons have started constructing on land that doesn’t belong to them, so the Ministry’s database would reflect the land as vacant. According to Croal, there are a number of such issues but the Ministry is trying to rectify them.

“So what happens is that after a big constructing and then the Ministry system doesn’t show an allocation and so for us, it appears as vacant, we have a number of issues like that. Lima sands, for example, has a history and we’re trying to rectify all of that,” the Minister said.

“We have been able to allocate over 300. There are a number, about 40, that we’ve reserved based on investigation that has to be conducted on individual issues. You know Essequibo Coast has had its issues of these matters that border on double allocations, persons illegally occupying and then constructing on areas that are not under allocation.”
He rated the two-day initiative as successful, with both him and Deputy Housing Minister Susan Rodrigues able to meet with every citizen who came in with a problem. According to him, no one was turned away. He also assured that the event was carried out in keeping with the COVID-19 guidelines.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA), Sherwyn Greaves, meanwhile, told residents that the agency is making every effort to ensure homeownership becomes a reality for residents on the Essequibo Coast.

Greaves added that the massive housing drive was propelled by a recent visit to the region by President Irfaan Ali. On this note, he had stated that over the two-day event, over 100 titles and transports would be distributed and that the Ministry would also process new applications during the outreach.