|Don’t sell your land |
CECILY ASSON Monday, March 10 2014
“TODAY you have the opportunity to move from being a squatter to owning a piece of land...don’t sell it or give it away as this is the inheritance you must now pass on to your children.”
This was the advice given yesterday by Works and Infrastructure Minister Surujrattan Rambachan to several families who were present at the Mediterranean Ballroom, Paria Suites in La Romaine to receive their certificates and letters of permission for residential plots at Picton in Debe.
For many years, these families have illegally occupied state lands but their fortunes changed with the construction of the Golconda to Point Fortin Highway. Their illegal homes were in the way of the highway and as a result they had to be relocated.
The lots which they have been allocated, Rambachan explained, is in close proximity to residential areas like Palmiste and Philippine in South Trinidad, and are valued at $200,000 each. Residents will purchase a plot at a cost of only $50,000.
Yesterday, a total of 76 persons, including as many as seven persons from one family each received a lot of land. Families were allowed to choose lot numbers that would allow them to live close to each other.
“You are being empowered to move away from being a squatter without having any sort of protection to being a landowner. Don’t let anybody come and fool you about your land and sell the land or give it away,”Rambachan said.
Land and Marine Resources Minister Jairam Seemungal also appealed to residents not to sell the land. “I urge you to use the land wisely and don’t go and sell it at the first opportunity. Please hold on to your property and build your house on it.”
According to Jairam, squatting remains a problem despite the best effort of his ministry which has now been given a mandate to stamp out the illegal act once and for all.
He said there are over 60,000 squatters in the country and it is his hope however that later this month with the land for the landless programme the numbers will be reduced as many persons will become recipients of land for the first time. The lands, he said, will be leased to “squatters’ for a period of 30 years with an option to renew.
Among those receiving certificates yesterday was Adanna Paul, 35, of South Trunk Road, La Romaine, who told Newsday she along with other members of her family had illegally occupied state lands for the past 23 years.
“I was not sure if it would have really happened but now that it has I am feeling good,” Paul said. Brijesh Dwarika, 38, a father of two said he is looking forward to building his new home saying, “this will be my legacy for my two sons.”