MONTEGO BAY — Ninety-seven families, who are occupying sections of the Galleon Beach property in South Western St. Elizabeth, are closer to official ownership of their lots.
Minister of Housing, Environment, Water and Local Government, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, on Friday, December 2, presented letters of allocation to the families during a ceremony held at the Crawford Primary School in the community.
Addressing the gathering of residents, Dr. Chang said that the letters of allocation were in keeping with commitments made by his Ministry to deliver allotment letters to occupants of Galleon Beach property by the first week of December.
The property, which is an informal settlement, was acquired by the Ministry of Housing in 2006 for some $53 million. It consists of 83.4 acres, which has been subdivided into 284 lots.
“The property has three designated commercial lots and the balance consists of 73 vacant lots and we already have 82 applications for these. The vacant lots will first have to be allocated to persons who currently live on the property… the officers are already on the ground to ensure that boundaries are adjusted accordingly,” Minister Chang explained.
He assured residents that while officers would be engaged in adjusting the boundaries, no one would be forced off their holdings.
“Those lots that are vacant will be retained to help you, and if somebody has to move, they will have a lot to move to. I am therefore going to ask you as residents of the property, not to allow any new residents to come on at this time. We can’t allow this to happen because part of my commitment is to upgrade informal settlements… we have come a long way in upgrading them, but it is most difficult to do so if you allow people to move on,” the Housing and Environment Minister implored.
He assured residents that his Ministry was in the process of building a level of trust where informal settlements are concerned and urged all to cooperate and give their support.
“Owning a piece of the rock for your home is very important in this country. It not only gives you security and value, you can use the land paper that registered title which is safer than money in the bank, to carry out a range of business transactions. I am predicting that Galleon Beach will in time, become a healthy, dynamic and united residential community in St. Elizabeth,” Dr. Chang said.
Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton, who is also Member of Parliament for the South Western St. Elizabeth congratulated the residents for their patience leading up to the occasion and assured them that all persons now occupying the property, would obtain tenure for their lots.
“As Member of Parliament for this constituency, I want a peaceful and security conscious constituency. I want Crawford, Galleon Beach in particular, to be just like any normal community that is elsewhere in the parish. I therefore want to give Dr. Chang and his Ministry much credit for the present achievements of the project and want to assure you all that this is development that we are committed to as a government and development that we are going to see through to completion. You have nothing to fear if you follow the rules,” Dr. Tufton stated.
By Glenis Rose, JIS Reporter