Standoff between Minister, Mocha/ Arcadia continuing over squatters

The Mocha/Arcadia Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) remains hopeful that it can convince the Ministry of Communities’ Department of Housing that relocating all the residents of Lombard and Broad Street to their community is not a good idea.

Chairman of the NDC Rudolph Adams told Stabroek News on Tuesday that after a special meeting to address the issue members of the NDC remain firm in their objection reiterating that it is a representation of the views of their constituents.

Adams noted that the NDC has written to Minister Valerie Patterson-Yearwood to request another meeting to address the issue.

Government through the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) took the decision to bear the cost of relocating squatters from the Broad and Lombard streets area after the court ruled in favour of the owners of the property currently occupied by the squatters. It was ordered that the squatters remove to allow the owner to take possession of the space.

“The government could not stand by and allow those persons to be evicted… thrown out on the streets without anywhere to go,” Minister Patterson-Yearwood told a press conference last week even as she apologized for not engaging the NDC before the decision was made.

Patterson however maintained the NDC’s rejection of the relocation of the squatters was discriminatory and that government could not allow communities to determine who gets to move in.

“If we allow the residents of Mocha to determine whether or not we relocate these people there, then every area and every village in Guyana will have to determine who comes next to them and government cannot allow that. They are Guyanese!” she argued.  “There is an urgent need for lands, [and the] lands [are] next to Mocha. Mocha was not selected for any special reason… I don’t know what the reason for the discrimination is because Guyanese are Guyanese and we cannot discriminate against people,” she added.

She explained that following an engagement with the NDC, it was agreed that of 72 homes that will be built, 15 are to be given to the less fortunate families of Mocha.

She added that 23 acres of land at Plantation Prosperity were divided into a 184 house lots. Residents of Mocha who had applied for lands would be given priority upon allocation of the lots.

In addition, she said that the community would be able to benefit from enhanced drainage and irrigation, roads, bridges and utilities.

Some $43 million is to be spent for the construction of the 72 homes, while $30 million will be spent on infrastructure development.

It was explained during the press conference that Food for the Poor would also inject $43 million into the project.

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