Squatting or illegal settlements, which is an age-old problem in Guyana, may be a thing of the past in the next few years. Minister within the Housing Ministry Susan Rodrigues is optimistic that the issue of squatting can be eliminated within her Government’s first term in office.
During a recent interview with the State-owned NCN, Rodrigues said that her Ministry’s housing development agenda will see enough house lots being made available to meet the current demand for housing in Guyana. With this, she said there would be no need for squatting.
“We have our community development department that handles regularisation of informal settlements. And while we strive to create new housing areas and house lots, we still have a duty towards those persons who are occupying illegally. And we don’t want to neglect that section of our population,” the Minister explained.
“We have made significant strides in that sector as well. And I want to be very clear about this. I am convinced that as we continue to deliver on our housing programme, that by the end of our first term in office, there will be no need for Guyanese to occupy any portion of land illegally or to squat. Because there will be enough development and land readily available to service our population and meet the demands in the housing sector.”
Rodrigues acknowledged that it was the Government’s duty and responsibility to make land affordable and accessible to the people of Guyana. According to the Minister, squatting not only carries down property value in the community where it takes place, but also makes the installation of utilities difficult.
“So, I want to discourage people from feeling like they need to squat. Because informal settlements hamper development. It contributes negatively to the aesthetic value of the community. It lowers property value. And it leads to a haphazard occupation within schemes. So, it poses a challenge when we have to develop road and drainage networks. So, it’s difficult to take an informal settlement and really raise the bar, once people have occupied haphazardly,” she said.
Since coming to office, the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Government has made it clear that it is aiming to fulfil its manifesto promise of distributing 50,000 house lots over the next five years. The Ministry of Housing has also said it would work with other State agencies to make more land available for housing development.
These agencies include the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL); the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission (GLSC) and the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) to pursue land acquisition for housing developments.
This year, the housing sector received a total allocation of $8.9 billion in the budget. Of this sum, $6 billion will go towards infrastructure and utility works in new and existing areas. This will pave the way for the allocation of over 10,000 house lots and 7000 land titles to citizens.
The Government has also gone countrywide with its dream realised house lot distribution campaign… an exercise that has so far distributed over 4000 house lots and over 500 land transports. In the Government’s first four months in office, 3500 house lots were distributed… an amount that was half the amount of house lots distributed during the former Government’s five years in office.