| -Settlement Regularization Director|
DIRECTOR of the Settlement Regularization Department within the Ministry of Housing and Water, Gladwin Charles, has refuted claims by some sections of the media that the ministry intends to demolish the homes of squatters on the sea dam at Herstelling and Farm without first making provision for their relocation. Speaking with the Government Information Agency (GINA) yesterday, Charles noted that while the ministry remains adamant that the squatters have to remove from the reserves, it continues to work with them to ensure that they receive available house lots in housing schemes.
The Central Planning and Housing Authority served the final notices on March 22 to the East Bank Demerara squatters.
He said that several of these squatters have applied and have received house lots; some are in the process of building, while others are waiting for confirmation from the ministry to start building.
However, he noted that a few, while they have applied, have not checked on the status of their application and these persons seem unwilling to move.
Charles stated that last Tuesday, when officers from his office served the notice on the squatters at these locations, a structure was in the process of being erected on the reserve and this was stopped, adding that wherever possible his office will prevent new structures from being erected.
The Housing Ministry remains ready to provide assistance with relocation of these individuals; however, Charles stated that it is not a case where squatters at these locations are being discriminated against, as this is the situation in several other villages around the country and his office has been serving similar notices and making like provisions for squatters at other locations.
Since notice was first served on these individuals last September by the Public Works Ministry, 15 of the 45 served have relocated, Charles told GINA.
He is further encouraging the remaining squatters to heed the warnings that have been issued both by the Housing Ministry and the Ministry of Public Works’ Sea Defence Department that squatting on the sea dam is dangerous, unhealthy, poses a risk to the livelihood of persons in the vicinity, and prevents works from being carried out on the sea defence structures.
Only recently the Ministry of Public Works again issued the warning to squatters who dwell on sea dams around the country, particularly in Herstelling where the dam was eroded and severe flooding was experienced by the entire village.
The Sea and River Defence Department urged the squatters to remove from the location so that the ministry could carry out works to erect permanent structures to bring relief to the residents.