Sophia residents to Govt: “No land, no vote”

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The residents of Sophia, Greater Georgetown, were full of frustration on Monday as they lashed out at the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government for unkept promises and the slow pace of awarding land.

Angry residents showed members of the media acknowledgement letters from the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) dating back years. They were asked to walk with their letters to a booth set up by the Housing Authority in the area in an effort to appease them.

“This is me land paper boy. Watch what going on here boy! Look how long I apply and can’t get a land boy! Even if they give we a receipt, we can pay piece, piece. All ah we want land at the back here! Even if its $20,000 or $10,000 a month, we can have a receipt to show we paying for the land. What they doing for people?” argued one resident.

“No land, no vote! We ain’t taking that again. No land, no vote!” Shouted another resident, while another one, this time a woman holding a child, explained that she has been on the dam for seven years. She lamented the Government’s failure to address the needs of Sophia, long perceived as a coalition electoral stronghold.

Some Sophia residents expressing displeasure at the long wait for their lands

“You know how long they was to give we land? Every time people come and break down [structures]. People children getting big! What happen to poor people? And yall [APNU/AFC Government] want go back in [to power]. Yall gotta give people land!” she shouted in visible frustration.

Meanwhile, CH&PA held an emergency press conference on Monday, where the Authority’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Leon Saul and Junior Minister with responsibility for housing, Annette Ferguson, attempted to address the issue.

“It was drawn to the attention of the agency last week that persons have begun to move in on the vacant lands in the Cummings Lodge area. The Authority took the responsibility of going in there to explain to them that we do not condone or support their actions to squat on the lands,” Ferguson said.

She said that in 2015, the CH&PA engaged the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) and paid for the land. Ferguson claimed that they have now begun the necessary infrastructural work so that the persons who acquired the land can begin construction.

“We took a decision on how we will treat with them. And this morning (Monday), we did have members of staff out at the Sophia area to address those persons who have applied for house lots some time and have not been allocated. We asked them to submit their acknowledgement letters and we encouraged those who never applied to register.”

Meanwhile, Saul added that there is no land at Cummings Lodge for first-time applicants. He reiterated that the land in that area has already been given out and that the booth is intended to help persons get land in other areas.