JIS News

Minister of Water and Housing, Dr. Horace Chang, is defending his Ministry’s right to uphold the law, while at the same time providing adequate shelter for all Jamaicans.
He was speaking against the background of the recent demolition of squatter settlements in Whitehall, Westmoreland, last week.
“The Ministry of Water and Housing will always follow the law to protect all Jamaicans, but will have no alternative but to implement the law when persons are defiant,” he told JIS News.
“The timing of the demolition of structures in Whitehall, Westmoreland last week was unfortunate,” Dr. Chang continued. “The Ministry of Water and Housing wishes that any such exercise would have been unnecessary, as we move to regularise settlement for the people of Jamaica,” he said.
The Minister said the occupants of the land were given more than adequate notices before last week’s removal exercise.
“The occupants of the Whitehall property were in fact given adequate notices to vacate and to make alternate arrangements for accommodation, but they ignored them. Many were living on lots that had been transferred to purchasers and were offered the opportunity to purchase alternative lots but refused to do so,” he explained.
He said that the informal settlers were given every opportunity to formalise their living arrangements.
“All other avenues were pursued to get these squatters removed from the property, including notices to quit, which were issued in November 2005, January 2008 and again in July 2008,” Dr. Chang said.
Dr. Chang said that the date for the demolition of the settlements, which affected 10 lots, was fixed by an agreement with the local planning authority, the police and the contractor. The lots are intended to be used for housing.