The Ministry of Housing in collaboration with the Ministry of Labour today fulfilled the dreams long-held by residents of Dazzel Housing Scheme, Paradise, with over 160 land titles being handed over.
Through the efforts of the Ministry of Housing and Water residents were able to receive titles to the lands they had been occupying for a number of years. This was conceived through the Paradise Multipurpose Co-op Society Ltd, which was tasked with getting residents to regularize their lands.
Minister of Housing and Water, Irfaan Ali told residents that their journey had just begun since development has no end. He pointed out that it is a cycle that requires constant work and unity.
Minister Ali said it was with great pride that the Ministry has noted the success of the village and it is the hope of the Ministry that all members of the Co-op Society will get their titles by June 2010.
The Minister highlighted that in any development there must be displacement and he called on all members to become regularized. The objective of the Ministry is to ensure that all members get on board and become legalized.
Minister Ali further noted that the regularization process has not only physical but financial implications, since the Ministry subsidizes the cost by 500 percent. The titling process if done individually would cost in excess of $50,000 but through the Co-op and the help of the Ministry it cost only $8000.
There is still a lot of work to be done with the need to invest rapidly in the housing scheme in terms of changing the infrastructural landscape, but there is also the need to finalize the regularization with the same zeal, said Minister Ali.
There are currently 800 lots occupied with only 600 being registered which is an indication that there is still squatting in the community. The Government with the aid of the Basic Needs Trust Funds will be investing more in the development of the housing scheme but there is need to safeguard the infrastructure that is put in place.
The handing over of titles is not a mere transfer paper of title; it is a critical aspect of legalizing and having equity, the Minister explained.
Minister Ali said his Ministry stands with the people as partners in development.
Minister of Labour, Manzoor Nadir under whose sector the Co-op Society falls, noted that there is a belief that if people squat they will be regularized but that should not be the case since persons should work to acquire their property.
Minister Nadir said the Government will work assiduously to improve the lives of the people with the knowledge that a lot still has to be done to make life better for a lot of people.
Clive Nurse, Deputy Chief Labour Officer, Occupational Health and Safety Officer noted that the extent of the membership of the society helped to expedite the regularisation. He pointed out that out of 1252 members, 790 had regularized their records and those are the persons who will be receiving their titles.
In giving the vote of thanks Patrick Robin said that the titling ceremony was a partnership that had manifested between the Government and the people of the society, noting that the land titles will further develop the society.
Many residents of Dazzel Housing Scheme expressed their appreciation at being able to receive the titles to their lands, pointing out that it has opened doors for them that were previously closed.
Eight housing schemes, 911 houselots handed over to Region Two NDCs
The administration since taking office has ensured that proper housing is provided to all Guyanese by developing new and existing housing schemes with basic infrastructure to improve the living standards of its citizens. In line with this objective, the Ministry of Housing and Water’s Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) in collaboration with the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development today handed over eight housing schemes to the Region Two local authorities.
The schemes were handed over at a simple ceremony held at the Anna Regina Town Council, Region Two. These include: Pomona, Onderneeming, Bushlot, Lot 1 Anna Regina, Henrietta Richmond, La Belle Alliance, Lima Dairy and Lima Pasture.
Six hundred and thirty-three houselots were handed over to the Anna Regina Town Council, 227 to the Good Hope/Pomona Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) and 51 to the Riverstown/Annandale Neighbourhood Democratic Council.
Minister of Housing and Water Irfaan Ali while addressing the gathering said that the handing over of the schemes is built on governance, accountability, transparency and the process of decentralization not only in financial resources but administrative wise.
“The closest level of governance mechanism to the grassroot is the NDC; that is why the NDC sometimes face the brunt of positive and negative criticism because they are the closest arm of the government to the people…it is not only the official handing over of the schemes but the softer component of governance, accountability and transparency that is reflected in this process,” Minister Ali reiterated.
The Minister told the local representatives that invested in their hands is a tool that will ensure that they recover their resources.
He said that he is satisfied that schemes which are handed over are close to optimal development, both in terms of occupancy and infrastructure.
Other schemes will be handed over to the local authorities; however there are some issues that will have to be resolved before the Ministry can do so, the Minister further assured. These schemes are: Lima Sand, Charity and Westbury.
He further stated that NDCs have a critical role to play in the development process, a role that must be inclusive and participatory.
“People at various levels must be involved in the preparation of the budget, these are things that we must work at in improving our governance mechanism,” he urged.
During the period 2000 to September 2009, the Minister said the Housing Ministry expended more than $1.7B towards housing and water developments in the region.
Of that sum more than $1.1B was been spent in the water sector and$433M in housing, the Minister said.
From the period 1992 to 2008, approximately 2000 houselots were distributed in the Region.
This year, during the Ministry’s One Stop Shop outreach, it was noted that 319 houselots were distributed in areas including Onderneeming (250), Charity (53) and Lima (16).
“The investments we (government) have made so far have benefited more than 35,000 residents in Region Two,” the Minister added.
The Ministry will be spending approximately $500M on service upgrades of transmission and distribution network, metering, the construction of a water treatment plant and drilling of a well to benefit approximately 75,000 people.
About $60M will be expended on the installation of a transmission main from Cullen to Onderneeming to benefit 25,000 people while $200M will be spent on installation of transmission mains from Charity to Dartmouth, Airy Hall to Spring Gardens to benefit 40,000 and 36,000 people respectively.
Minister Ali said the collaborative effort is a consolidated one among the Ministries of Housing and Local Government and allottees to ensure that the NDCs are involved.
In this regard, the Minister said each partner has a role and responsibility outlined in a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed on March 9, 2007 between the CH&PA and Local Government Ministry to ensure that partners live up to their duties.
Meanwhile, Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, Kellawan Lall made reference to climate change and the global financial crisis which have been affecting the livelihood of persons globally.
He told the gathering that as result of these factors persons will have to be cognizant and find new means of wealth creation noting that there is a paradigm shift internationally.
Recognizing these challenges, the Minister pointed out that the administration has been putting measures in place and allocating more resources to ensure that its citizens are not affected.
“Guyana, he said stands out with a ‘big idea’ to deal with social issues which are affecting the world globally. Inspite of the things that are happening around us the administration will be managing the resources in such a way to provide people with basic resources,” he said.
Minister Lall also encouraged the local authorities to create higher standards with the new housing schemes that were handed over to them.
CH&PA’s Chief Executive Officer, Myrna Pitt said the handing over of the schemes to the respective authorities is the final step in the process that the agency pursues as it carries out its mandate in respect of orderly development.
She said housing schemes are the embodiment of human settlements and their development is the responsibility of the Authority in the first instance, and thereafter the respective local authorities.
The signing of the MoU, she said by the Ministries of Housing and Local Government represents a collaborative approach between the two entities that is necessary for the seamless transfer of responsibilities, as the housing areas are assimilated into the existing local authority areas.
“As far as our expectations go, and in keeping with the CH&PA’s statutory mandate to promote orderly and progressive development in urban and rural areas in our country, this partnership with the local authorities is to ensure that development is carried out in a proper and harmonious manner in the schemes established by the authority,” Pitt said.
In this regard, in all aspects of planning for future housing areas, the Authority will be engaging and including local authorities at the planning phase since the organisation is of the view that the integrated and participative approach leads to sustainability of its efforts.
Region Two Chairman Ali Baksh noted that tremendous resources have been invested into the housing scheme and implore the local representatives to find innovative ways to strengthen their revenue collections and strengthen their NDCs.
“You have to look at ways and means not only in rates and tax collections but you also have to be involved in other financial arrangements within your NDC to enhance development within your area,” he urged.
The programme saw presentations by Development Manager, CH&PA Germene Stewart who give a brief overview of planning and development issues in management of the housing schemes and Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Local Government Sewchan who highlighted his Ministry’s expectations for the housing schemes.
The administration in recent years has divested thousands of acres of land and distributed about 80,000 house lots in the 10 administrative regions.
This includes the establishment of over 126 housing schemes to provide the population with sound housing development.