Oct 13, 2017 News
… cops forced halt to exercise
A demolition campaign was yesterday conducted in the community of ‘A’ Field Sophia, where squatters were seen aggressively displaying grave dissatisfaction.
The homes and business places that were demolished were occupied by people who paid no heed to the notices that were issued to them, some one week prior to yesterday’s demolition.
Kaieteur News understands that the decision taken was not only over the fact that the lands squatted on are government reserves, but that there has also been an alarming rate of violence and crime in the community.
A source from the demolition crew told Kaieteur News that just around 25 men were part of the demolition exercise. They were supported by the Guyana Police Force which had a very ‘difficult’ time in dealing with the residents, who removed the bridges to their homes and demonstrated acts of violence, which was somewhat expected by the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA).
Leader of the Selective Group of Sophia, Brian Sobers, said the myth about Sophia being a breeding ground for criminals happens to be only one of the few things that the CH&PA intends to change with the demolition of the illegal homes.
He added that CH&PA is looking to continue the exercise until the village reaches to the place where it has only legal residents.
The demolition crew was thwarted at some locations when residents removed parts of their bridge and even blocked some. In one instance a pregnant woman stood on the bridge, blocking the entrance to her home.
A recent document displayed that there are some 1200 squatters in the area and they have to be removed.
General Secretary for the Alliance For Change, Marlon Williams, expressed dissatisfaction with yesterday’s exercise. He explained that although notices were given, there was insufficient time for the squatters to relocate, given the fact that they are obviously not financially stable.
CH&PA, the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission, the Guyana Police Service and the Environmental Protection Agency are a few who would have collaborated in the activity with onsite participation.
Yesterday’s exercise cleared at least 20 homes and one business, which was a vulcanizing shop that had been existent for quite a few years. The business which belonged to Kenneth Wray will be housed at another location in Sophia.
In addition to Wray’s business being housed elsewhere, it was made clear that the homes that were in existence for numerous years will be relocated, however, the exact location has not yet been made available by the CH&PA.
This publication was further informed that a demolition exercise was scheduled for ‘B’ Field Sophia on the same date, but was delayed due to the violent behaviour displayed by the residents.
CH&PA admitted that squatting is not only prevalent in Sophia. However, the CH&PA expressed that it has intentions of expanding this exercise soon to the other areas.
The Central Housing and Planning Authority recently held a series of consultations with residents of North and South Sophia.
This was to make the residents aware that the Government, in collaboration with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) will be embarking on a series of Infrastructure and developmental projects – ‘Road Network Upgrade and Expansion Programme’ – in several communities in the North and South Sophia community.
The proposed works include construction of roads and sidewalks, installation of street lights, upgrades to community grounds and buildings and subsidies for the construction of core homes and home improvements projects, which would have been adversely affected by the squatting population.
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