Some 17 residents of the St. Benedict's Heights Operation PRIDE development in East Rural St. Andrew, on June 27, received certificates of titles from the Housing Agency of Jamaica (HAJ) for serviced lots acquired in the community, during a ceremony at St. Benedict’s Primary School, Bull Bay.
A total of 285 lots have been developed at a cost of more than $200 million on nearly 48 acres of land in the community, which is adjacent and contiguous to Harbour View, Copacabana, Camrose, and Bay View.
The 17 recipients are among 26 shortlisted from a total of 285, who are members of the St. Benedict’s Land Development Organisation. In 2003 they engaged the then National Housing Development Corporation (NHDC), and later HAJ, in discussions and negotiations regarding acquisition of the lots. The selectees initially received certificates of possession, of which 26 have now been given titles.
Guest speaker at the ceremony, Minister with responsibility for Housing, Hon. Dr. Morais Guy, congratulated the recipients. He described land as the “second greatest resource” that any country possesses, after its citizens.
He, however, lamented that Jamaica’s lands are not being adequately exploited for “development purposes,” citing the need for a “paradigm shift” in this regard.
The Minister pointed out that currently, the Ministry and the HAJ have over 9,000 land titles in their possession for which applications were made, but which are yet to be collected. These, he contended, “can be the vehicle for economic growth and development in this country."
Commending the 26 title recipients for moving to formalise their holdings,
Dr. Guy urged the remaining 259 residents to take the “bold step” by engaging the HAJ in discussions to this end.
In his remarks, State Minister for Tourism and Entertainment and Member of Parliament for East Rural St. Andrew, Hon. Damion Crawford, described land acquisition as “the ultimate proof of nationality."
The State Minister explained that the acquisition of a title can open many opportunities, as it can be used as collateral to obtain loans to start a business; to improve one’s education; or to take care of one’s health.