CH&PA ad­mits no con­sul­ta­tion with Mocha NDC on re­lo­cat­ing of squat­ter fam­i­lies

-talks to be held Sun­day

Stabroek News - - EDITORIAL -

The CH&PA yes­ter­day ad­mit­ted that there was no con­sul­ta­tion with the Mocha Ar­ca­dia Neigh­bour-hood Demo­cratic Coun­cil (NDC), prior to an an­nounce­ment that squat­ters from Lom­bard and Broad streets would be re­lo­cated there.

Mak­ing the ad­mis­sion yes­ter­day was the Chair­man of the Cen­tral Hous­ing and Plan­ning Au­thor­ity (CH&PA), Lelon Saul. His state­ment came at a press con­fer­ence af­ter the NDC a day ear­lier had said it had not been con­sulted and had ques­tions on the de­ci­sion.

It was the Min­is­ter in the Min­istry of Com­mun-ities, Va­lerie Pat­ter­son who an­nounced on July 31st that dozens of squat­ter fam­i­lies would be re­lo­cated to the East Bank De­mer­ara NDC. The fact that there were no con­sul­ta­tions with the NDC up to that point would be seen as dis­re­spect­ful of the lo­cal govern­ment sys­tem for which ground-break­ing elec­tions were held in March 2016.

Yes­ter­day, the Mocha Ar­ca­dia NDC, in re­la­tion to the pro­posal to re­lo­cate 43 fam­i­lies to Barn­well North, asked that the au­thor­i­ties con­sider evenly dis­tribut­ing the squat­ters through­out other de­vel­op­ing com­mu­ni­ties. This was re­lated by Rudolph Adams, the NDC Chair­man, in an in­ter­view with this news­pa­per.

Dur­ing a meet­ing be­tween the NDC coun­cil­lors, Barn­well com­mu­nity lead­ers and the CH&PA on Mon­day, the coun­cil ex­pressed con­cerns that the re­lo­ca­tion of squat­ters to Barn­well North will im­pact their crime rate, and have other so­cial im­pli­ca­tions.

“Our com­mu­nity has its own so­cial prob­lems in terms of crime and drugs and so forth and that area, I per­son­ally know that it has a prob­lem with drugs. The po­lice have been run­ning reg­u­larly to those ar­eas, and to bring those per­sons into our com­mu­nity is like trans­fer­ring the prob­lem from one area to an­other,” Adams stated.

“…our rec­om­men­da­tion to them is though we un­der­stand the Min­istry’s man­date, we were ask­ing that they dis­trib­ute, be­cause they’re say­ing it’s 45 fam­i­lies… And per­haps we can get more so­cially out of it and so forth,” he added.

Adams re­lated that the au­thor­i­ties at CH&PA com­mit­ted to ex­am­in­ing their rec­om­men­da­tions, adding that on Sun­day, a wider com­mu­nity con­sul­ta­tion will be held with res­i­dents to get their views on the mat­ter.

Mean­while, at a press brief­ing held at the CH&PA yes­ter­day, Saul ad­dressed the

min­istry’s tar­di­ness in hold­ing con­sul­ta­tions with the coun­cil. “First and fore­most, the con­sul­ta­tion with the coun­cil was not timely. The res­i­dents of Mocha Ar­ca­dia, I think they learned of our de­ci­sion via the me­dia, which I think was bad. We should have con­sulted with them first,” Saul said.

Adams had stated that they were first made aware of the re­lo­ca­tion through the me­dia, and that it was not un­til af­ter the coun­cil’s statu­tory meet­ing, when at­tempts were made to have an ap­point­ment set up, that the min­istry wrote to them and in­formed them of the plans. “… they would have con­sulted with the dif­fer­ent agen­cies; they con­sult with Lands and sur­vey, they con­sult with the min­istry of agriculture… so they’re aware of some of the prob­lems. What they didn’t do was to con­sult with the NDC, which I would have in­di­cated is more or less dis­re­spect­ful to the NDC and the com­mu­nity at large. Be­cause if you’ve been do­ing all this con­sul­ta­tion and failed to con­sult with the lo­cal au­thor­ity, well then where are we go­ing?” Adams ques­tioned.

Yes­ter­day, Saul stated that Mon­day’s en­gage­ment was in­tended to “in­form the coun­cil of CH&PA’s in­ten­tion to re­lo­cate the res­i­dents of Broad and Lom­bard Street.”

He in­di­cated that the in­ten­tion was to re­lo­cate 40 to 43 fam­i­lies.

“Of course CH&PA has no in­ten­tion of im­pos­ing our will upon the peo­ple of Mocha Ar­ca­dia. It is an en­gage­ment and we want them to find favour with our po­si­tion,” the CEO said, af­ter mak­ing ref­er­ence to this week­end’s up­com­ing com­mu­nity en­gage­ment with res­i­dents.

Saul stated that other con­cerns raised by the coun­cil and com­mu­nity lead­ers are in re­la­tion to crime, con­cerns that the lands in ques­tion are an­ces­tral lands, and also that there are res­i­dents in Barn­well who have been un­able to re­ceive ti­tle to the prop­erty, al­though they would have been oc­cu­py­ing it for a con­sid­er­able amount of time.

On July 31st, Pat­ter­son told re­porters that her de­part­ment would be work­ing with Food for the Poor to pro­vide homes for the squat­ters at Barn­well North.

Re­spond­ing to ques­tions at the min­istry’s Mid-Term Re­view, Pat­ter­son noted that $42 mil­lion would be spent for the con­struc­tion of 70 homes, while $30 mil­lion would be spent on in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ment, in­clud­ing a road.

The ten­der­ing process for the road has be­gun, with pub­lic ad­ver­tise­ments al­ready in place, Pat­ter­son said. Each home is ex­pected to cost $1.2 mil­lion.

The squat­ting area came to pub­lic at­ten­tion af­ter for­mer Min­is­ter of So­cial Pro­tec­tion Volda Lawrence in Septem­ber, 2016, led a team from the In­ter-Amer­i­can Com­mis­sion on Hu­man Rights (IACHR) to the area as part of their first coun­try visit to Guyana.

A state­ment from the IACHR on the Septem­ber 21 to 23 visit said in part, “Dur­ing its visit to the neigh­bour­hood of Lom­bard Street, the IACHR del­e­ga­tion was shocked by the ex­treme poverty and pre­car­i­ous liv­ing con­di­tions of its in­hab­i­tants.

The com­mu­nity com­prises ap­prox­i­mately 40 adults and 80 chil­dren with clear hous­ing, san­i­ta­tion, and health prob­lems, as well as limited work op­por­tu­ni­ties and scant so­cial ser­vices pro­vided by the State. Dur­ing the visit to the com­mu­nity, the IACHR was ac­com­pa­nied by Min­is­ter Volda Lawrence, who pledged to con­tinue to work to im­prove the sit­u­a­tion and op­por­tu­ni­ties of the com­mu­nity’s res­i­dents. The IACHR calls upon the State to adopt ur­gent steps to im­prove the so­cioe­co­nomic (sit­u­a­tion) of the Lom­bard Street res­i­dents and to cre­ate, im­me­di­ately and with­out de­lay, con­di­tions that al­low them to ex­er­cise all their hu­man rights.”

Sev­eral vis­its to the area by Stabroek News saw the res­i­dents pub­licly declar­ing their re­quests for land on which they can es­tab­lish their homes.

An aerial view of the com­mu­nity at Lom­bard and Broad streets.

(Min­istry of the Pres­i­dency photo)

Pres­i­dent David Granger (right) and oth­ers pre­par­ing to place the cof­fin on the pyre.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Guyana

© PressReader. All rights reserved.