Jamaicans Urged to Desist from Squatting

The Ministry of Agriculture and Lands is urging persons to desist from squatting, especially in areas prone to natural disasters or those reserved as watersheds.
Senior Director of the Land Administration and Management Division in the Ministry, Dr. Mohini Kiswani, noted that the practice of squatting wherever land was available, was not only illegal, but had socio-economic and public health concerns. “What people need to do instead is to apply to the Commissioner of Lands if they need to find suitable lands to live,” she advised.
Surveys conducted by the Ministry of Agriculture indicate that there are some 595 squatter settlements island-wide, with 16 per cent of the total in Kingston and St. Andrew, and the numbers were growing.
Dr. Kiswani has attributed the increase in squatting to the demand of persons for a better quality of life and with that, there was the desire to own property. “The affordability of land is a big concern, therefore persons are prone to squat especially in areas where there are employment opportunities . people have occupied places where it’s very hazardous for them to settle,” she noted.
According to Dr. Kiswani, the Ministry, through the Squatter Management Unit and in collaboration with other Ministries, was making every effort to stem further proliferation of the problem. She noted however that “while the government deals particularly with squatting on government-owned lands, we have to insist that private landowners monitor their lands constantly (to prevent squatting)”.
The Squatter Management Unit was established in June 2006 to prevent, regularize, relocate and evict illegal settlers from government-owned lands.
The unit has already started the process of assisting persons in informal communities to acquire legal tenure, which is expected to pave the way for regularizing such settlements. Several site visits have been made to various squatter settlements to gather vital information, which will assist in the making of informed decisions.
The Unit is currently in discussion with the Development Bank of Jamaica to explore the possibility of divesting lands located at Pusey Hall Estate in Rocky Point, Clarendon to regularize illegal settlers.

JIS Social