Minister of Housing and Water, the Hon. Collin Croal has committed to addressing several critical issues relating to water and housing following a series of community meetings that were held today in the West Berbice environs. The meetings were held at Waterloo Housing Scheme, Bath, Harbancepool, Cotton Tree, Balshack Housing Scheme, and at Zoorhenhoop Housing Scheme.
Concerning the housing sector, residents complained of the lengthy wait for house lots. In other instances, residents said large sums of monies have been paid for lots but they have no idea where the lots are located. The issue of a prolonged wait for transport and titles was also raised.
To the housing matters, the Minister told residents that the administration has inherited a system that is heavily flawed and efforts are being made to kick start the government’s housing drive, which will see 10,000 serviced lots being allocated annually.
“What we have found is that, at the beginning of the year, allocations were made to persons and they were called in to pay for lands that are not even accessible and in some instances, the transaction for ownership of these lands have not been finalized,” Minister Croal told residents.
This has forced to Ministry to make a policy decision to cease these transactions forthwith, resulting in the halt in payment for these allocations.
However, to meet the growing demand for house lots, Minister Croal assured residents that the Government through his Ministry will proceed with plans for acquiring lands throughout the country so that every area can be served.
“When we make an allocation, we want to ensure that it is ready for immediate occupancy, that is these lands have all the basic infrastructure, inclusive of the electrical network, water distribution network and accessible roads,”.
The Minister further underscored the importance of a vibrant housing and construction sector which he said adds significantly to the country’s economy.
Speaking to the issue of deplorable roadways in all four of the communities visited, the Minister told residents that the matter will be sent to the Ministry of Public Infrastructure to see how best it can be addressed.
The Minister also committed that technical teams from the Ministry of Housing and the Guyana Water Incorporated will return to the areas in the coming weeks to fully assess the issues raised to bring solutions. As part of immediate measures to address the issue of high water bills, the Minister spoke of Government’s commitment to reverse VAT on water and returning the subsidy to pensioners for this service. The Minister also reminded residents, that the administration is currently working on having an emergency budget within the new month and this will only address some of their plights. He however assured that the 2021 budget will seek to address more wide-ranging infrastructural projects countrywide.
A similar string of complaints was echoed at all the meetings. These issues include, no street lights which they claimed were deliberately removed from their communities by known persons, poor water supply, the lack of proper drainage infrastructure, illegal dumping of garbage. These issues will be directed to the various sector Ministries, for action.