Several squatting areas in Linden, Region 10 (Upper Demerara/Berbice) will soon be regularised, Minister within the Communities Ministry Valerie Sharpe-Patterson has announced. She was at the time addressing the media at a Government outreach in the community held over the weekend.
Junior Communities Minister with responsibility for housing, Valerie Sharpe-Patterson
One such area, she outlined, will be Burjag, located at Wisroc, Wismar. The minister said since the area falls under the Wisroc Housing Co-op, discussions are now ongoing to have those lands transferred to Housing so they can be regularised.
Sharpe-Patterson related that, already, there were applications sent to the Central Housing and Planning Authority. She said the ministry is working to bring the squatting regularisation not only to Linden, but other parts of the country, since there were many requests by residents to do so. This, she noted will form part of the focus for mid-year.
Sharpe-Patterson warned however that this should not be taken in the sense that people should now begin squatting in new areas, especially on Government reserves since those would not be regularised.
In meeting with several residents who brought forward a number of irregularities relating to housing, the minister said the issues are not only common to Linden, but country-wide.
She noted that there were instances where people complained of the high cost of land, or having to pay additional costs owing to increases over time.
Noting that Government had made a promise in its Manifesto to reduce the cost of land, she noted that those who would have completed paying 50 per cent of the cost by May 1 would qualify for a 50 per cent discount on the remaining cost. This, she noted, is in keeping with Guyana’s 50th Independence anniversary celebrations.
She advised that people should stick to paying the initial cost of land agreed to from the inception and not fall prey to paying additional, based on increased costs.
“In Linden, initially the cost of the land was $58,000, then increased to $92,000, and some people who are low income earners said when they went in to pay some time after, they were told that they have to pay $300,000… If the cost of the land was $58,000 when you entered into the arrangement or the agreement then if they come two years after to complete paying then it must still be $58,000. They must not now get what is the new price, because the agreement started when it was $58,000,” Sharpe-Patterson reiterated.
She also outlined issues relating to persons who finished paying for their lands years ago and have not yet received their titles.
The minister added that there were also cases where lands were allocated and were re-surveyed, which resulted in them being re-allocated to someone else. Sharpe-Patterson said this is a burning issue which she is tasked with dealing with.
“The problem right now is that we have no house lots available right now in Linden for allocation. The last I found was 36 and I allocated all 36 at the last public day”, she said.
The minister added that lands were identified at Amelia’s Ward, however but are designated under Lands and Surveys Commission. These she stated are now being pursued to be transferred to Housing so that the necessary infrastructure can be added.
“So persons can look forward, because in that area we have over 2000… so we will be able by the end of the year, to meet the demands of Linden”.
Stressing the need for more efficiency in the system, the minister stated that in her opinion applications for titles should not take more than three weeks to be processed. This, amongst other issues she said, should be addressed within the administration’s first term in office.