Black Immigrant Daily News
Minister of Housing and Water Collin Croal
Even as seven squatters refuse to move from the Cane View/Herstelling (Mocha), East Bank Demerara area to facilitate the the development of the Eccles-to-Great Diamond Highway, it has been revealed that those persons who willingly relocated already removed millions of dollars in compensation.
Housing and Water Minister Collin Croal during a programme last evening disclosed that in 2021, the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) engaged 35 families from Cane View on their relocation to prepare for the four-lane road.
Extensive consultations were done to ensure the residents were relocated to developed housing schemes at Farm and Herstelling on the EBD, equipped with all the amenities that will lead to their enhanced livelihoods.
Some of the residents have been resettled in a more cohesive, sustainable and safe community.
The compensation process and agreements were signed in December 2021 and their existing properties were valued at the current market price by the Finance Ministry’s valuation division.
To date, some $250 million has been expended as compensation to 27 persons along with over $6 million compensation for crops. Lands, assistance and titles were made available to the residents free of cost.
The Housing Minister reminded that the lands for which these squatters are being compensated were never owned by anyone but the State.
The Housing Ministry has disclosed that while it stands ready to make available move-in-ready, single-flat, two-bedroom housing units in the Little Diamond Housing Scheme for theseven non-compliant persons, these efforts have been met with harsh and irrational resistance.
“The seven squatters have been offered full compensation for their existing illegal property, a free residential house lot, a grace period to facilitate construction of their new homes, and 5 acres each of lease lands by the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission. These offers have been rejected on all fronts,” the Ministry detailed in the Notice.
One of these persons is Lovella Doris, whose property has been valued at $7.2 million but she is demanding $100 million from Government, along with the condition that she remains in the Cane View area despite being offered a two-bedroom, move-in-ready home. The Ministry said documentation is being processed in the courts in relation to her case.
Squatter Joyann Alexis Ellis is also asking for $100 million in farm lands in exchange for her relocation from her property, which has been valued at $8.6 million. According to the Ministry, an offer of farmland at Long Creek, Soesdyke-Linden Highway, has been made to her.
Another valuation was done at the property of Leon Liefde, but he is not satisfied with the $11.5 million being offered.
Meanwhile, Junior Ellis had his property valued at $5.5 million, but is demanding $150 million, along with farmlands from Government.
In relation to squatter Anneita Beaton, she signed the settlement agreement with the Housing Ministry but has not uplifted the cheque, and is now asking for $45 million in addition to farmlands. Her property was valued at $14.3 million.
Sheldon Eastman, whose property was valued at $3.4 million, is demanding an additional $3.5 million to complete his house at Plantation Farm, EBD and $100 million as a final settlement.
The Ministry has since hired a contractor to carry out the remaining works on his new home.
According to the Housing Ministry, Liefde, Ellis, Beaton and Eastman were all served their final relocation notice since June 27, 2022.
The Ministry further made it clear that should its last offer be rejected by these illegal squatters, it will have no other choice but to proceed with a demolition exercise.
In fact, the Ministry attempted to resume a demolition exercise on Tuesday, but the situation developed into a standoff with the squatters for several hours. During the confrontation, members of the APNU/AFC Opposition, including Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton, Georgetown Mayor Ubraj Narine, and several Coalition Members of Parliament, were present.
Efforts are underway again today to demolish the structures stymieing the development of the highway.