Land preparation and development has commenced at Plantation Prosperity, East Bank Demerara, which has been identified for the relocation of squatters from Lombard and Broad streets, Georgetown, according to Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) Chief Executive Officer Lelon Saul.
“We [the CH&PA and the Mocha Arcadia Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC)] have reached a position and the process is moving forward. All of your concerns, we have taken on board and we will continue to work with you on this issue,” Saul told a gathering during a government outreach on Sunday afternoon at the Mocha/Arcadia Community Centre Ground.
Chairman of the NDC Rudolph Adams told Stabroek News said that the council is still engaged in discussions with the CH&PA but noted that they had “come to a common ground and agreed for works to start on the ground.”
“The whole thing about the NDC not wanting the persons [to] be relocated is just a myth and we were just airing our concerns. We… are pleased with the discourse we are having,” he further said, while noting that they are “seeing things happening.”
The NDC and the CH&PA were at loggerheads following the announcement of the relocation of residents from Lombard and Broad streets to Plantation Prosperity, which is located behind Mocha. The NDC had strongly objected to residents being relocated to their community, while expressing concern at outsiders being given the opportunity to occupy lands over residents as well as security fears. The NDC had suggested that the CH&PA move the squatters to different communities.
Saul informed the residents during the outreach that they have been consulting with government agencies and ministries to draft a plan to remedy their concerns. He explained that the Ministry of Public Security would beef up security at the Mocha/Arcadia police outpost, while the Ministry of Public Health would provide additional staff at the health centre and the CH&PA would be developing a playfield for the community.
Speaking to reporters at the end of the meeting, he pointed out that they were yet to confirm the number of families that would be relocated.
“Last week we learnt that 26 persons filed an appeal against the decision of the High Court which had granted a ruling in favour of the proprietors [of the lot at Lombard and Broad streets]. So, at this point, we are not favourable to relocate anyone who is party to that appeal…,” Saul explained.
Initially, it was announced that 49 families would be relocated to Plantation Prosperity. Saul noted that once they have confirmed the number of families moving to the identified area and they have oved, the CH&PA would be working with the Mayor and City Council to demolish the structures that they occupied.
Some $43 million is to be spent for the construction of 72 homes, while $30 million will be spent on infrastructure development. Food for the Poor will also inject $43 million into the development project.
Adams explained that 15 homes would be built for residents from his NDC, in keeping with its demands, while farmers who would be affected by the relocation would be compensated.
Saul indicated that one farmer who was affected has been compensated and discussions are ongoing with the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission to find an alternative location for the farmer.
During the meeting, Saul also told Barnwell North residents that the electrification programme in their community would commence in a matter of days.