Black Immigrant Daily News
Attorney General Anil Nandlall
Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Anil Nandlall has, once again, bashed the PNC-led Opposition party for playing the race-card in relation to efforts by the Housing Ministry to relocate squatters at the Mocha/Cane View area to facilitate the construction of the four-lane Eccles to Great Diamond Highway along the East Bank of Demerara corridor.
During his weekly programme, ‘Issues in the News’, Nandlall reminded of the PNC treatment of squatters across the country in the 1970s during which dozens of homes were bulldozed without any notices or compensation offered.
In contrast, the Attorney General noted that the People’s Progressive Party/Civic Administration has adopted different approach, not only regularising major squatting settlements such as Sophia but also shifting persons to established housing schemes as well as offering compensation where necessary.
In fact, the Legal Affairs Minister posited that government is currently undertaking similar exercises by offering compensation in exchange for titled lands from citizens for developmental purposes across the country.
He made reference to the Gas-to-Shore project at Wales as well as the Parika-to-Schoonord road and the new Demerara River Bridge.
“Currently, where the gas-to-shore is going …dozens of miles of property have to be acquired and we are acquiring it. Most of them are Indo-Guyanese and these are people who own the land, they’re not squatters and they’re not resisting,” he pointed out.
“They don’t want to sell, they don’t necessarily want to sell, because some of them are earning their livelihood on those lands. Several miles of those lands are farmlands, and these people own these lands by transport. We have a team of lawyers working, and we are negotiating a consensual arrangement with each of those persons, and they are cooperating!”
“Where the new Demerara Harbor Bridge is going, again! Persons’ private properties are being affected, and again, we are negotiating with them to ensure that we acquire their properties in the public interest, but we are doing it consensually, and they are cooperating. And these are owners, these are people who have houses that value millions of dollars,” Nandlall contended.
“The road from Schoonord to Parika, that’s an entire highway, do you know how many private properties that road will now take up? Those persons have already been engaged, they own those properties, they’re not squatting, and they are negotiating peacefully.”
According to Nandlall, the relocation of persons from their properties to facilitate national development is nothing new to Guyana.
He said such things occur in other parts of the world and made it clear that it is never the government’s intention to forcibly remove persons, noting that this is a measure of last resort.
“Moving persons, acquiring property for national development has always been part of the repertoire of powers that a State must necessarily possess and when the occasion arises, the State must be able to exercise it in the public’s interest,” Nandlall outlined.