Gov’t starts relocation process for East Bank Demerara informal settlers

Several families illegally occupying a section of sea defence dam between Prospect and Diamond, East Bank Demerara are preparing to relocate.

The Ministry of Housing and Water – Central Housing and Planning Authority (CHPA) recently held a meeting with a number of families to discuss the process of moving to new homes or acquiring land.

The meeting was led by CHPA’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Sherwyn Greaves, along with Community Development Director, Gladwin Charles, and staff from the Land Administration Department.

During the meeting, 48 families expressed their interest in acquiring single-flat two-bedroom units, while another 32 families were interested in land for the construction of their homes.

Chief Executive Officer of the Central Housing and Planning Authority, Sherwyn Greaves, and Community Development Director, Gladwin Charles engaging the residents

According to CEO Greaves, an area in Diamond has already been identified for those interested in land, and preparation work has begun. The relocation process is expected to continue with another batch of families this week.

The Community Development Department has identified a total of 317 structures in the area, including 57 owned by Venezuelan immigrants in Little Diamond, Great Diamond, Grove, Herstelling Sea Dam, Farm Sea Dam, and Covent Garden. Of the 317 structures, almost 30 are currently unoccupied. 

Earlier this year, President Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali made a commitment to relocate informal settlers residing along drainage and sea defense reserves along the East Bank of Demerara.

The Ministries of Housing and Water and Public Works will spearhead the relocation process.

Since assuming office in August 2020, the government has taken steps to regularise hundreds of informal settlers along the coast and relocate some individuals to developed communities.

However, the government continues to take a strong stance against illegal land occupation, particularly near sea defences.

At a recent event in Region Three, Minister of Housing and Water, Collin Croal, reiterated the government’s position, “Don’t believe that people can start occupying space or engage in squatting and that you will get our attention. No new squatting will be recognised.”

The minister highlighted that the government’s national housing programme is specifically tailored to ensure that every Guyanese has access to affordable housing options.