With construction of the Eccles to Great Diamond Four-lane Highway advancing, the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CHPA) is in the process of relocating some thirty-five households squatting on a government reserve earmarked for the highway at Cane View, East Bank Demerara.
On Friday, Minister of Housing and Water, Hon. Collin Croal, and a technical team visited the area to assess the relocation and resettlement process.
The Minister noted that the Ministry has been engaging residents since January 2021 and lands were identified at the Farm and Herstelling housing schemes in August for the relocation. The cost of the relocation process is borne by the government and the squatters are being compensated for their homes based on an evaluation of each property conducted by the Valuation Office.
To date, thirty-one families have accepted the Government’s offer, with twenty-six taking up their house lot and ten fully relocated following the completion of their homes.
“The areas we are relocating them to are developed housing schemes and are in close proximity to where they are currently occupying. It is also better than their current situation because we will be giving them ownership documents to the land and they can have access to utilities such as electricity and water,” the Minister stated.
One of the squatters, Mr. Sheldon Allen, who recently moved to his new home in Herstelling said that the relocation offers his family a better standard of living and a safer community.
“This community looks safe and I feel good here, from where we come from in Mocha [and] my son will grow better here,” Mr. Allen stated.
Meanwhile, Mr. Marlon Forde, who was squatting for close to twenty years and also recently moved to his new home in Herstelling, stated that he is pleased with his new home and Ministry’s response to the situation.
“I want to thank the [Ministry of] Housing for the way they treated us and we didn’t get bullied,” Mr. Forde said. He also agreed that the housing scheme is better suited for raising his four children.
In addition to the compensation for their homes, compensation is also being processed for persons with livestock and crop.
However, while most of the squatters have initiated the relocation process, four families have refused to engage the agency. Minister Croal stated that the agency will continue to pursue the relocation of these four families, as the Ministry cannot allow stalling of the multi-billion highway, which will relieve traffic congestion for thousands of commuters along the East Bank Demerara corridor.
( CHPA )