Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing, Dr. Morais Guy, says the Ministry is looking at implementing a modern Trespass Act, which will address the issue of squatting.
“The former administration had looked at amending portions of it, but the suggestion is being made that we do a complete overhaul because this Act is dated from 1851 and it was a response to the abolition of slavery and people moving on to land. So a lot of work has to be done where this is concerned,” Dr. Guy said.
The Minister was speaking recently during an interview on the Jamaica Information Service’s (JIS) Issues and Answers Programme.
He noted that the Government has serious concerns about squatting and so far have received several suggestions to deal with the issue.
“We had a discussion with the Jamaica Civil Society Coalition and they have given us some ideas as to what we can do, so we are not looking at the issue of squatting just only from Government. We are seeking the advice and we are seeking the support of a wider partnership in how we address it, because it is an issue that will affect all of us,” Dr. Guy said.
A rapid assessment of squatting, undertaken by the Squatter Management Unit in 2008, identified more than 700 settlements accommodating an estimated 20 per cent of the country’s population.
The assessment also revealed three types of squatting in Jamaica: agricultural, residential, which was the most dominant, and commercial.