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Some 20 families in the Mandela Terrace community in St. Andrew, who previously had no titles for the properties they occupy, now have legal access to those lands, having received their documents on November 7.

The presentations to the recipients were made by Minister with responsibility for Housing in the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing, Hon. Dr. Morais Guy; and Minister of Finance and Planning, Dr. the Hon. Peter Phillips, during a ceremony at the Faith United Church.

Mandela Terrace, formerly ‘Moonlight City’ located off Waltham Park Road, was created when persons displaced by Hurricane Gilbert in 1988 occupied these lands.

The settlement was renamed in honour of former South African President and human rights activist, Nelson Mandela, and gradually grew in size over the years.

The Government, along with community self-help efforts, led by the Provident Society developed the settlement under Operation PRIDE. So far, infrastructure works include roads, potable water and electricity.

In his remarks at the ceremony, Dr. Guy urged the beneficiaries to exercise diligence in the management and utilisation of the titles, and ensure that they redound to the benefit of their families.

He encouraged the other 115 residents in the area to also become “proud owners” of the property they occupy.

Dr. Guy noted that the Government is cognizant of the opportunity for personal and community development that a land title presents, and as such, has undertaken a project to ensure that more Jamaicans become legal landowners.

The Housing Minister urged the recipients to pay their land taxes yearly in an effort to contribute to the development of the country’s infrastructure.

Dr. Phillips, who is Member of Parliament for St. Andrew East Central, where the community is located, advised the recipients to use their title wisely.

“Don’t borrow on it if you’re not certain you are going to pay back what you borrow. You work too hard, you’ve struggled too long, don’t part with it lightly,” he urged.

Senior Manager, Housing Agency of Jamaica, Donamarie Ashton, for her part, said the agency is committed to empowering persons through the delivery of housing solutions.

In expressing gratitude, Chairman of the Mandela Provident Society, Michael Forth, said it is a special day for him and several other community members, underscoring that they can no longer be called squatters.      

Some 10,000 land titles are to be delivered to Operation PRIDE beneficiaries over an 18-month period, as the Government continues to formalise land settlement across the country in an effort to create orderly communities.