Ministers In Sophia

The humanitarian approach to be adopted to address informal settlements

Ministry of Housing & Water, Georgetown Guyana– Acting on an invite by residents of Block X Liliendaal (Sophia), newly appointed Minister of Housing and Water, Hon. Collin Croal and Minister within the Ministry, the Hon. Susan Rodrigues conducted a walkabout in that community. The Ministers engaged residents of Block X Liliendaal (Section A) and Block (R) Turkeyen and assured them that the strong-armed approach towards squatting is a thing of the past but a rather inclusive and humanitarian stance will be adopted and implemented.

Minister Croal said his Ministry has always adopted a zero-tolerance approach to squatting but a comprehensive plan will be formulated to address the issue shortly. He urged residents to be patient and cooperate with the agency in a bid to effectively address housing issues. The Minister also assured residents that their issue will be addressed with some urgency as the agency is formulating a comprehensive housing policy that will cater to the needs of all. He noted that the agency will prioritizing squatting matters since in most instances squatting impedes infrastructure development.

Minister Rodrigues echoed similar sentiments, saying she has been active in the community before taking up her Ministerial post and unfortunately witnessed, people’s homes being demolished. She assured residents, this will not be the new administration’s approach, stating that a more humanitarian one will be taken. In so doing, she stressed the need for a proper data collection mechanism that will guide the relocation and resettlement process. “We need to fix the situation, we are looking for your full cooperation, we commit to working to put this situation to rest and resolving it in a way where everyone is satisfied,”. She too reminded residents that the agency is dealing with a backlog of applications which has now reached a total of 62,000 active applications as she pleaded with them to be patient.

Residents through their community leaders reached out to the ministers, citing their feelings of neglect when it comes to house lot allocation. Though only a few days in Office, and having been briefed on the issue, the Minister opted to give residents an audience. Some residents complained that late last year they were invited to a meeting to add their names and contact information to a list after which contact would be made when lands are available. To date, the residents have not been contacted. Fearful of having their properties, which are all on the government’s reserve, demolished the residents opted to engage the subject Ministers.

“We have no intention of living on the dam for the rest of our life, we are willing to move if we are given lands”, one resident lamented.