Minister within the Ministry of Communities Valerie Sharpe-Patterson has sounded a warning to squatters, who believe that they can force the government’s hand by squatting on lands with the hope that these areas will be regularised.
Speaking with the Government Information Agency (GINA) on Thursday, Minister Sharpe-Patterson warned that “these squatters will be disappointed.”
The minister cautioned that government will not be regularising areas that are not conducive for the establishment of communities. “We cannot do (that). We would have to make lands available and reallocate to those persons,” the Minister said.
She noted that “some people tell you things, ‘I have been living here for 20 years and I do not want to move’, I am sorry we cannot regularise those areas that are not conducive for proper living. We cannot, and with the vision that our President has, we cannot leave people living in those areas,” she said.
President David Granger had made it clear that the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) government has zero tolerance for squatting, and that squatting is illegal and will not be tolerated.
Squatting is in contravention of government’s vision of development of cohesive communities with proper infrastructure including roads, water and electricity and green recreational spaces.
Minister Sharpe-Patterson told GINA that the ministry has been “overwhelmed by the number of squatter settlements across the country.” She said that, in the one-year of the APNU+AFC government, the Ministry of Communities has done much work to regularise squatting areas where possible.
Minister Sharpe-Patterson pointed out that the ministry has allocated 252 lots to persons squatting under regularisation, in Region Three at Tuschen North, Zeelugt North, Greenwich Park, and De Kenderen; in Region Four at Kaneville, Sophia, Bachelor’s Adventure, Ogle, Industry, Better Hope, Two-Friends (Railway Reserve) and in Region Six at Mt. Sinai (Angoy’s Avenue.)
According to the GINA report, she said 217 of the persons allocated lots have paid at least 50 percent of the cost and that the Ministry of Communities has commenced the process of titling these lands.
She also reported that 410 titles were issued to persons in squatting areas under regularisation, during the one year of the APNU+AFC administration.
But even as the ministry’s work to regularise squatting where possible, Minister Sharpe-Patterson, said that the Ministry is challenged by the fact that persons are squatting on lands that are not owned by the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA).
She noted, for instance, those squatting on the East Coast of Demerara and other parts of Berbice on lands owned by the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) and in Linden, on lands owned by Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission (GLSC) and those owned by the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) which were formally bauxite lands.
“We cannot go and regularise, we have to wait, go through the process of GuySuCo handing over the land to us,” Minister Sharpe-Patterson explained.