Minister Croal conducts community meetings in Region 5

Minister of Housing and Water, the Hon. Collin Croal has committed to addressing several critical issues pertaining to water and Housing following a series of community meetings that were held yesterday in the West Berbice environs. The meetings were held at Waterloo Housing Scheme, Bath, Harbancepool, Cotton Tree, Balshack Housing Scheme, and at Zoorhenhoop Housing Scheme.

With regard to the housing sector, residents complained of the lengthy time they are made to wait for house lots. In other instances, some said they have paid large sums of monies for lots but they have no idea where the lots are located. The issue of a prolonged wait for transport and titles was also raised. 

To the housing relating matters, the Minister told residents that the administration has inherited a system that is heavily flawed and all efforts are being made to kick start the government’s housing drive, which will see 10,000 serviced lots being allocated annually. 

“What we have found is that, at the beginning of the year, allocations were made to persons and they were called in to pay for lands that are not even accessible and, in some instances, the transaction for ownership of these lands have not been finalised,” Minister Croal told residents. 

This has forced to Ministry to make a policy decision to cease this transaction forthwith and stop collecting payment for these allocations. 

However, in an effort to meet the growing demand for house lots, Minister Croal assured residents that the Government through his Ministry will proceed with plans for acquiring lands throughout the country so that every area can be served. 

“When we make an allocation, we want to ensure that it is ready for immediate occupancy, that is these lands have all the basic infrastructure, inclusive of the electrical network, water distribution network and accessible roads.”

The Minister further underscored the importance of a vibrant housing and construction sector which he said adds significantly to the country’s economy. 

Speaking to the issue of deplorable roadways in all four of the communities visited, the Minister told residents that the matter will be sent to the Ministry of Public Infrastructure to see how best it can be addressed. 

The Minister also committed that technical teams from the Ministry of Housing and the Guyana Water Incorporated will be returning to the areas in the coming week to fully assess the issues raised with the aim of bringing solutions. As part of immediate measures to address the issue of high water bills, the Minister spoke of Government’s commitment to reverse VAT on water and returning the subsidy to pensioners for this service. The Minister also reminded residents, that the administration is currently working on having an emergency budget within the new month and this will only address some of their plights. He however assured that the 2021 budget will seek to address more wide-ranging infrastructural projects countrywide. 

A similar string of complaints was echoed at all the meetings. These issues include, no street lights which they claimed were deliberately removed from their communities by known persons, poor water supply, the lack of proper drainage infrastructure, illegal dumping on garbage. These issues will be directed to the various sector Ministries, in the coming days.

Meanwhile, speaking to the issue of drainage infrastructure, Regional Chairman, Vickchand Ramphal told residents that already a team from the Ministry of Agriculture doing assessments in Waterloo.