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Minister of Water and Housing, Dr. Horace Chang, has said that his Ministry has intervened in an effort to assist informal settlers and provide for them a sense of security and some level of land ownership.
Speaking in the House of Representatives yesterday (Sept. 9), Dr. Chang said that the person(s) who had settled on the lands which surrounds Hedonism III in Runaway Bay St. Ann, have been relocated to parts of Belair in the parish.
“The land that surrounds Hedonism III is highly squatted on and have been overtaken by about 150 ply board squatters. At the same time, we cannot brutalise them because they are people who are looking for somewhere and when they were about to remove them I intervened and declared the area a slump clearance area and kept the land owners off but I have relocated them on parts of Belair and by October the owner will be able to have his land at his disposal,” he said, adding that in this case there was one man who might have been under economic stress.
Minister Chang informed that the other incident, which occurred in Whitehall in Westmoreland, was very unfortunate. “We had some unfortunate incidents that happened just before Tropical Storm Gustav and despite the statements I wish to commend some of the members in that area for the level of restraint, which I think was reasonable,” he said.
He pointed out that the time chosen for the demolition was unfortunate, and had been decided on by the contractor, the police and the local planning authority.
“(There was) one lady who I thought was wronged because she had made a substantial down payment. I told the National Housing Development Corporation (NHDC), that she should have been one of the last cases instead of one of the first cases. She has in fact, come in and paid off her lot. (It is) completely settled,” he continued.
He underscored that one of his main objectives, is to give informal settlers a level of commitment, while ensuring that they have “a security of tenure on a place that is safe and sound.”
“We will ask them to work with us if relocation is necessary but we have to have the credibility to say if we are relocating them they know (that will be done) provide them with an improvement rather than a worse situation,” he said.