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Twenty-four residents of Callaloo Mews, St. Andrew, have received titles from the Housing Agency of Jamaica (HAJ) for lots in the community, which they previously occupied informally.

The 24 lots are among 193 on which the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing, through the HAJ, has completed infrastructural development at a cost of over $23 million.

The work entailed construction of access roads, drainage systems, and water distribution mains; rehabilitation of the sewage system; and relocation of several houses to other sections of the sub-division.

Presentation of the titles, which were delivered to the recipients during a ceremony in the community on Friday (March 1), marks the start of the Ministry’s efforts to formalize the holdings of the residents occupying the lots. Arrangements are being made to complete the process for the remaining 169 as soon as possible.

Delivering the keynote address at the ceremony, Minister with responsibility for Housing, Hon. Dr. Morais Guy, underscored the government’s commitment to making land available to persons who need it, thereby enabling them to enhance their welfare, among other benefits.

“The thrust of this government is that we are going to empower our people…by giving them access to the land that they already live on,” he asserted.

Dr. Guy urged the residents of Callaloo Mews to develop their properties and the community in a manner which transforms them into centre-pieces for emulation.

“Let (others) recognize that from within the lower income earning strata of this country… people can demonstrate…the capacity to lift (themselves) and have a model community,” he implored

Councillor for Waterhouse Division, Kevin Taylor, in welcoming the development, underscored the importance of removing “all the vestiges” of a “squatter settlement” as the community moves to become the kind “that we all can be proud of.” Mr. Taylor was representing the Industry, Investment and Commerce Minister and Member of Parliament for Western St. Andrew, where Callaloo Mews is situated, Hon. Anthony Hylton.

“Many persons, over the years…have suffered from stigma attached to these communities in seeking employment, in seeking opportunities, in seeking upliftment for their families. This is an opportunity to change those circumstances,” Mr. Taylor stated.

In her remarks, the HAJ’s Senior Manager, Project Development and Procurement, Rosemarie Brown, who spoke on behalf of Managing Director, Joseph Shoucair, noted the agency’s “gratification” in completing work in Callaloo Mews. She described the development as a “milestone” achievement.

“This is a win-win situation for all of us. I implore you as homeowners and as citizens of Callaloo Mews, to have vision for what you would want to see your community become in years to come,” she said