Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Anil Nandlall has said that the actions being taken by the Government to remove the squatters at Success, East Coast Demerara (ECD) off the lands belonging to the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) is for the greater good of the entire country.
Nandlall, during a recent programme he hosted on his social media page, said that while some may view the flooding of the lands as very harsh, it was necessary as the Government has a development agenda which would benefit all Guyanese.
“The situation must be looked at from the country’s interest and a government must always act for the greater good,” Nandlall contended.
Running a government, he outlined, “is not a popularity contest, there are harsh decisions that have to made by Governments all over the world; that is the cost of being in government.”
He argued: “It is not in the best interest of the whole country that the back of Success be converted into a squatter swamp.”
The Minister reminded that squatting is illegal and creates a whole host of problems if it is left unaddressed.
“That is what squatting does, it stymies development, it creates housing areas without proper planning, no roads, no water, leads to sickness, violence, all these things are associated with squatting,” he explained.
According to Nandlall, there is a backlog of 60,000 applications for houselots and when persons engage in squatting, they do so with the intention of “jumping the line”. This, he noted, is unfair to those who may be waiting for a number of years to acquire their land.
“These people must understand that when squatting takes place, it pushes them down the line further, because it delays their application,” he highlighted.
About 150 persons have illegally taken up residence on the cane lands owned by GuySuCo, but now that the company is embarking on efforts to revitalise the industry by reopening three estates closed by the APNU/AFC regime, including the East Demerara Estate (Enmore), attempts are being made to remove the squatters from the lands.
GuySuCo had disclosed that some 17,000 varieties of sugarcane have been damaged by the squatters in those areas.
Not long after the PPP/C Administration assumed office, it began to work with the squatters to legitimately resolve the problem.
In fact, the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) has visited the area twice to commence the land application process, so that residents could be eligible for house lots.
Additionally, Prime Minister Brigadier Mark Phillips recently visited the area and offered Government’s support to provide shelter at the Graham’s Hall Primary School at Cummings Lodge, ECD to persons, until other permanent measures are put in place.
However, with some prodding from some political operatives, the majority of the residents are refusing to take up the offer. To date, only about five persons have taken up residency at the shelter.
“It simply can’t happen, it can’t be tolerated by a Government in a civilized society, squatting is illegal, it is wrong and politicians who care about people have to stop using people as political pawns and using their plight as a political platform; that’s is what is taking place at Success,” Nandlall expressed.
He added that it is not the Government’s intention to put residents off lands, but the correct procedures must be followed.
The squatters at Success, he noted will also benefit from their own land, but they would have to follow a system to acquire their own land.
The Government, he said has promised to accelerate the housing programme that will cater for everyone, “but it takes time.”
President Ifraan Ali, during his speech at the two-day housing drive held at the National Stadium recently, expressed that all Guyanese under his administration would benefit from housing, but the process has to be done the right way.