Some 44 persons at the Pigeon Island Squatting Area on the East of Demerara ended the year on a high note, having received legal ownership to the lands they have occupied for years.
Minister within the Ministry of Housing and Water Susan Rodrigues on Friday returned to the area to distribute land titles to 44 heads of families who signed up for their land titles.
These titles bring relief to the residents who lived in constant fear of their houses being destroyed and having to evacuate the land at any time.
Deomattie Laljie previously told the News Room she has been living there for more than 34 years. On Friday, she said she is happy she now owns the land she built her house on.
“I already build my house and I was wondering to know if it would pass or they would have to break it. I am living comfortable. I have everything. My fear is over,” Laljie said.
Another squatter turned land owner is Narine Kumar who said after 25 years he is finally relieved to have his land title. He told the News Room he always wanted to improve the house but he couldn’t do so without the land title. He said he is proud that he can do so now.
Kempati Singh said she lived at Pigeon Island for 37 years; she was tearful as she said her children can occupy the land now that she is the owner.
“I am so happy. In 2002. I applied for land and they were giving me Coldigen. Mr Shaik Baksh was there [as Housing Minister] and he sent housing people to see where we were living,” she recalled. Although Singh started the application process, she was not given a land until Friday when she received the title to the land she squatted on.
Two weeks ago, the squatters began signing up to receive legal ownership to the lands they have occupied for years now, while others were given houselot allocations to move elsewhere.
In August, President Dr Irfaan Ali accompanied by Minister Rodrigues. visited the area. The residents were promised that they would receive their land titles.
“There were some challenges, there were some boundaries that had to be shifted, some fences that had to be removed and that is never an easy or a pleasing task for us to undertake but we had to ensure that before we complete any regularization process that all of the boundaries are correct according to the plan,” Minister Rodrigues said.
She said this is an accomplishment that will allow the residents better opportunities such as accessing financial assistance from banks for expansions of their homes.
“I know now…with the acquisition of the certificate of title, you now have power in your hand. You can approach a financial institution, you can make those repairs on your home, you can make that extension. You have tremendous opportunity now with your certificate of title,” she told the squatters.
In addition to the squatters receiving their land titles, there has been massive road development in Pigeon Island. Road works and other community enhancement projects amounting to $80 million were recently completed there.
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