Mahdia fire victims benefit from One Stop Shop


-get house lots in new housing scheme
GOVERNMENT has made good on its promise to the fire displaced residents of Mahdia, Region 8, to provide them with a new housing scheme.
Officials from the Ministry of Housing and Water “One Stop Shop” campaign on Wednesday visited the area to allot house lots to those persons who were left homeless after the July 1 fire which destroyed 28 buildings in Mahdia’s commercial district, leaving millions of dollars in losses.
At a meeting in the boardroom of the Regional Democratic Council, residents turned out to begin the registration process and others for interviews and payment for their plots.
They were required to make a down payment on the land and were given an additional six months to complete payment. Persons who had applied for land prior to the fire were also given an opportunity to register and make payments.
Speaking with the Government Information Agency (GINA), following their allotment of land, some of them expressed gratitude for the speed with which the distribution process is moving and the affordable cost of the plots being offered to them, along with a minimal fee for the transport.  Some others, however, expressed their reservations about the availability of water at the designated housing area which is some distance away from the main district.
But during his visit to Mahdia in July, shortly after the fire gutted the shopping arcade, Housing and Water Minister Irfaan Ali had assured them that steps were being taken to have the area fully developed as a housing scheme and all amenities will be put in place.
The new scheme is slated to accommodate 136 houses.        
The area has already been surveyed and demarcated, and is to be completely cleared and palls put down early in the New Year. All other works to get the scheme up and running are slated to commence within the first quarter of 2011.
Meanwhile, plans are already in the pipeline for the rebuilding of the arcade area which was gutted during the inferno.
The new plan involves an upgrade of the area which was primarily occupied by wooden structures. 
Speaking with GINA Wednesday, Civil Engineer with the Housing Ministry, Omar Bispat, stated that a modern and efficient layout is planned for the area.
“The layout now will be made of concrete walkways, concrete drains for drainage, also a sanitary block and a septic tank ”, he said.
He added that a recently signed contract for $11.4M will allow for the commencement of construction of the basic infrastructure, and contractors are at present mobilizing equipment and materials for work to begin early in January.
The new arcade will be strictly for commercial use, as was not the case before the area was razed.
The Minister’s July visit to the area was a follow-up to the one made the day after the fire by a Cabinet team lead by Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, to regularize the housing situation.
During that visit, he was accompanied by Permanent Secretary Emile Mc Garrell, Chief Executive Officer of the Central Housing and Planning Authority Myrna Pitt, and officials from the Guyana Lands and Survey Commission and Guyana Water Incorporated.
At the time, the Minister assured the affected residents that a speedy solution to the situation needed unprecedented community involvement. (GINA)