The first sixteen of some forty-four persons who were squatting at Pigeon Island, East Coast Demerara are now legal landowners.
On Friday, the Minister within the Ministry of Housing and Water, Hon. Susan Rodrigues presented the Certificates of Title to beneficiaries, in keeping with a commitment of His Excellency, Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali in August 2022; to deliver the documents by year-end. Director of Community Development at the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CHPA), Mr. Gladwin Charles and other officials from CHPA were also present to facilitate the process. The activity, which was held at the Life Spring Ministries Multi-purpose Hall, Chateau Margot, East Coast Demerara, also follows the registration of the squatters for their Titles, just two weeks ago.
Some of the recipients have been occupying the area dating back to the 1980s. Efforts to regularise were made since 2002, including a review of the area in 2015 by President Ali, during his tenure as the Minister of Housing and Water. The process was then stalled under the previous government and restarted in 2020 under President Ali. Minister Rodrigues, therefore, emphasized that the distribution is a significant achievement for the government and residents.
“We want to empower people by giving them that document in their hand, [whether] an allocation letter, an agreement of sale and ultimately a Title or Transport,” said the Minister.
She continued, “from that many avenues open up for families, yes, you have security in the sense that you have a roof over your head that you own, you don’t have to fear especially our senior citizens that if something happens to them the family property or home will be in jeopardy”.
Moreover, the Minister outlined that when the PPP/C Administration took office in 1992 over 200 squatting areas were identified.
Through several PPP/C Administrations, some 158 of these communities have since been regularized. The Minister urged the cooperation of residents in the other areas, to make further progress.
Speaking to the overall housing sector, the Minister said the government is accelerating the development of house lots and the construction of housing units. She also said that infrastructure works will be advanced.
Beneficiaries at Friday’s exercise expressed happiness, having received their Land Titles. Ms. Deomattie Laljie stated that she and her family (including eight children) began living in the area approximately thirty-four years ago in a cramped 10×20 feet home and were always in fear of building due to ownership issues. The family has since upgraded their home and is happy to close this chapter of their life.
“I am so happy because we were always discriminated by people saying that we are not entitled to this [and] we are not entitled to that. […] I want to thank the President for delivering on his promise and Minister Susan for her extraordinary work that she put in,” Ms. Laljie said.
Mother of two, Ms. Kamani Sukhu, also shared, “my kids are very excited because they know in the long run they nobody will have to come and tell them ‘well you have to move’ or they will have to break your house down.”
Ms. Sukhu and her family now plan to make some minor repairs on her home to enjoy a more comfortable shelter.
For persons who could not receive the documents on Friday, contact can be made with the Ministry to facilitate the process.
Photos: Anil Seelall, CHPA PR Dept.