People must live in dignity
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Minister within the Ministry of Housing and Water, Susan Rodrigues
Minister within the Ministry of Housing and Water, Susan Rodrigues

– Min. Rodrigues announces $1.7B to make serviced lots available
– funds to be used for acquisition of land from NICIL, GuySuCo and GL&SC

By Navendra Seoraj

BUILDING on its promises and actions in the  past, the new People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) government has renewed its commitment to making housing available and affordable for every Guyanese, starting with the allocation of $1.7 billion for infrastructural development to make serviced lots available.
Arguing that the former APNU+AFC administration couldn’t care less about “housing the nation”, Minister within the Ministry of Housing, Susan Rodrigues said: “Under the APNU+AFC administration, there was a lazy, haphazard, uninspiring approach to housing, with emphasis on allocations and not on providing housing/shelter for Guyanese.”

Contrary to what obtained under the past administration, the new government is committed to making housing affordable through a housing development programme, which is designed to implement national housing and settlement policies through an efficient, well-planned, coordinated and structured framework.
“As in our Manifesto for the 2020 elections, and indeed for all the elections going back to 1992, we are determined to enable every Guyanese family to have a proper home in a safe, secure and proper neighbourhood; not as squatters or as tenants, but as responsible and proud owners, with titles that Banks and other lending institutions will regard as good security,” said Minister Rodrigues during her recent presentation to the National Assembly.

In giving a detailed breakdown of the new government’s plans for housing, the minister first said that $1.7 billion has been allocated for infrastructural development to make serviced lots available, and this allocation includes funds for the acquisition of lands from the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) and the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission (GL&SC).

Additionally, $292.8 million has been budgeted for the preparation of land for residential lots. This allocation will be used for the construction of roads and bridges to access lands for preparatory work in Recht-Door-Zee; Block AI Annandale; Cummings Lodge; Industry; Vigilance; Lethem; and Kwakwani among many other locations.
“So, Guyanese can look forward to an aggressive and fair allocation exercise as these lots become available,” Minister Rodrigues said.
This exercise, she said, will be different from the past administration’s massive distribution of house lots in the lead up to the General and Regional Elections.

POLITICAL GIMMICK
“This was a political gimmick, and in the period following, as a final grab before the official announcement of their defeat,” the minister argued, noting that from January to July 2020 alone, the former administration made 1,987 allocations, of which only 251 titles were processed.
In continuing her argument, the minister said: “These lots were allocated to our people in areas not even under the ownership of CH&PA; a far cry from the promised community experience.

“This PPP/C administration will rectify that, and deliver serviced lots through a comprehensive and coordinated approach between CH&PA and GWI, so that Guyanese can live in dignity, and not be pumping water from the canal two years after occupying their lots, like the residents in Lust-en-Rust.”
APNU+AFC, in their 2018 budget presentation, had promised Guyanese “a community experience”, which would have entailed not just units or lots, but also roads, drainage, sidewalks, lighting, social services and recreational facilities.

This “failed promise”, will be realised by the new government, said Minister Rodrigues, noting that $200 million has already been budgeted for the procurement of electrical line hardware material for installation of electricity in 16 housing areas, including Cummings Lodge; Annandale; Prospect; No. 79 Skeldon Estate Backland; No. 75 Village; Hampshire; and Williamsburg.

Essential to the development of housing schemes is the adequate supply of potable water, so the government has also budgeted $80 million for the installation of wells at Lust-en-Rust and Prospect.

“Mr. Speaker, many residents in housing areas on the West Demerara, East Bank Essequibo, East Berbice, Lethem and Linden suffer greatly from poor security, especially single-mothers who fear to get home, or to venture out after the sun sets,” said Minister Rodrigues.

After assessing the problem, government has allocated $49.2 million for LED street lamps in 16 housing areas, including Belle West; Schoonord; Zeelugt; Uitvlugt; Farm; Covent Garden; Herstelling; Peter’s Hall; Kilcoy/Chesney; and Wisroc among other areas.
Work will also be completed on the upgrading of 4km of main access roads, and bridges to industrial and commercial areas in Prospect, Perseverance, Little and Great Diamond; $150 million is allocated for these projects.

MORE LOTS
The upgrading of the main access road and bridges for private developers in Prospect and Perseverance will allow for access and commencement of work on approximately 500 house lots, while the upgrading of the main access road for industrial and commercial purposes in Little and Great Diamond will allow for access and commencement of work on a further 300 house lots.

Another $150 million has been proposed for the upgrading of 3km roads to asphaltic concrete in La Parfaite Harmonie; Herstelling; Eccles; and Zeelugt. This will bring great relief to more than 800 people, or 200 existing house lot beneficiaries.
This 2020 programme sets the conditions for the ‘awakening’ of the housing sector under the PPP/C, said Minister Rodrigues.

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