Freddie Kissoon lies about Turkeyen eviction – say squatters
…GPL, GWI never removed connections
A number of Turkeyen squatters have not supported claims by columnist Freddie Kissoon who published a report last week by suggesting that they are to be evicted from lands that they have been occupying for as long as 30 years.
This story came to light when Publisher Glenn Lall, on reading Kissoon’s column, sent a reporter to investigate the claims that the Guyana Power and Light had disconnected power to the homes and that Guyana Water Inc. had disconnected water.
The Parliament had also passed, two weeks ago, a Bill that cancelled all rights of squatters to claim state lands by prescriptive rights.
None of 18 homes across the road from Mr Kissoon’s residence at Turkeyen, had received any notifications from Government to remove.
Neither did the authorities take away electrical power lines from their homes. None of the homes ever had GPL connections. The power company never ran any primary power line to that area.
The residents also said that when they applied for power the power company advised them to have some form of legal document showing that they had rights to the land before any connection could be made.
Guyana Power and Light has been reluctant to issue meters unless there were documents that the Ministry of Housing was not issuing because the land was state property.
On Wednesday, daily columnist of Kaieteur News, Freddie Kissoon, under his piece titled- “I know why the Government did away with prescriptive rights”- said that he believed that moves are underway to remove the squatters located along the Railway Embankment at Turkeyen, East Coast Demerara.
In the article, Kissoon suggested that the recent abolition of prescriptive rights to state lands which was passed in Parliament was more than what meets the eye.
Kissoon, who lives opposite the squatters, just east of the CARICOM Headquarters, described the land in the area as prime real estate and very valuable.
The columnist claimed that he was driving home one day when he saw the land being surveyed by the Guyana Lands and Survey Commission. That operation lasted for three days.
While not specifying how long ago that was, Kissoon said that days later GPL came and took away the connections from the homes.
There was never any power to the homes.
Kissoon wrote, “More days later, another strange thing happened. GWI disconnected the water supply. The die was cast. The land was to be sold.”
On Friday, during a visit, people were seen washing clothes using water supplied by GWI.
On Friday, 14 of the homeowners denied being told recently by the Ministry of Housing or other authorities that they would have to move.
Some claimed that they had received notices years ago, more than seven in some cases, and were not allowed to extend their constructions.
They said that the then Housing Minister Shaik Baksh, about six years ago, had informed them that they were squatters and that they might be required to move.
Many of these homes have water connections. Among the squatters are a mechanic and a block maker.
According to Compton Singh, 47, he has been living in the area “on and off” since the 90s. It is his relatives’ home.
“No, nobody ain’t tell me anything. I saw some people going down the road with some wires yesterday (Friday) but they ain’t tell us anything. No, we na get no notice to move.”
Sharon Kirpaul, Singh’s neighbour, has been living on the Railway Embankment for 22 years, long before the road was constructed. She said that she moved there when her daughter was a toddler. Kirpaul is now a mother of five.
“No, we don’t have light here. We had a house over there (south of the Railway Embankment). GWI did not take away the water and nobody gave we notice to move. If one person did get a notice…all the neighbour would have known.”
According to Kirpaul, she had tried for several years to get GPL connections but in vain.
The only worker she saw in the area was a GT&T truck which was doing some work last week.
Simone Hendricks, who lives further east, also said that the only workers she saw in the area recently were GT&T’s.
“I ask them like you giving us phones but they said it is for the internet.”
Hendricks lives with her husband and sister-in-law, Nadira Singh, 43, in the same yard, but in different
The family claimed that they were stopped from even repairing their roof by officials.
It was the same story along the line of homes which have been standing in some cases as many as 30 years.
Patricia Howell, 73, was probably the oldest resident. She built her home 30 years ago, two lots west of the UG Access road.
“Yeah, we tried to get lights but they not allowing us. We did not see anybody for the longest time and we have not received any notices.”
North of the squatter location is a large plot of land owned by Toolsie Persaud but which the government is seeking to repossess. That matter is engaging the attention of the courts.
Earlier, the government began clearing that plot. Word is that the government is preparing to establish a special hospital there.
This would drive up the price of properties there. One man said that Kissoon might have been more concerned with his own property value and would have wanted the squatters to remove.
One squatter said, “Kissoon is a wicked man. He want put we out of house and home. He selfish. He only thinking bout he property and how much he gun get if he had to sell he house after de hospital build.”
One of the squatters said that from time to time Kissoon would call the police whenever they played their music.
The columnist said that he was acting in the interest of the people.