(GuyanaChronicle)President Ali tells rebellious Mocha squatters, implores them to move from ‘illegality’ to ‘legality’
PRESIDENT, Dr. Irfaan Ali, on Thursday, implored squatters at Mocha-Acadia/Cane View, East Bank Demerara, to stop being used as political tools and pawns, and see reason in the benefit of moving from the government reserve to the legal, legitimate lands and houses being offered by the government.
In an address to the squatters, the Head of State bemoaned the situation at Mocha, where families continued to be encouraged to defy the law by agents of the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance For Change (AFC).
“I watch with dismay the type of political opportunism, lack of leadership and irresponsibility exercised by some who refer to themselves as leaders in the political opposition. Leadership is about responsibility. One that is based on a level of trust and integrity, not one that is opportunistic in nature. Not one that seeks only to divide and use every occasion that you believe you can extract a divisive message to people,” the President remarked.
The situation became intense on Thursday, when official from the Ministry of Housing and Water along with police officers in riot gear came under attack with Molatov Cocktails, stones and other implements as they resumed the demolition of the structures on the government reserve. The squatters were hindering the construction of the Eccles to Diamond road link which will benefit tens of thousands of Guyanese daily.
To date, 28 families have already relocated from the dam to nearby residential areas and have rebuilt new homes through government compensation. However, seven squatters refused what they were offered and instead requested exorbitant amounts to remove.
Despite being offered land and compensation ranging from $3.4 million to $14.3 million, the resistant seven squatters continued to demand as much as $100 million to $150 million each to remove from the unregularised area.
“The fact is [that] this is the government reserve. Persons are illegally squatting along the reserve. Twenty eight families to date, who were there on the reserve, have peacefully been relocated. They understand the vision of development,” the President said.
Not only have the other residents been relocated to nearby residential area, but have also had completely new homes built through a government compensation programme.
“Notwithstanding the illegal occupation, this government is a caring, responsible government for all its citizens. We not only remove those 28 persons, we ensured they were compensated and adequately housed. [But] there are seven individuals who remain uncompliant and continue to distort every single effort in building this road and continuing the development. Making very unreasonable claim and refusing to vacate the land that they are illegally occupying,” the President said.
He related: “In [Thursday’s] newspaper, we have all seven names evaluation that is offered to all of them. Very open and transparent. There’s no political mileage or opportunism that can be extracted from this. I ask and I implore these families not to be used as political tools and pawns of a few who are totally angry at the development of our country.”
The government has spent over $250 million in getting the other squatters relocated. Earlier this week, the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) commenced the demolition exercise of the remaining structures.
The President said that for the last couple of weeks, the government has been publishing, in a very transparent way, all that has been done to have a seamless and smooth movement of those who are illegal on the reserve.
“All of Guyana, every reasonable person can understand what the government has offered is above and beyond. When will some of these so-called leaders of our country understand what is required to take this country forward? Are they thinking about the value that will come to every house in Mocha with this new highway?
“The net value of every home will increase. The net worth of every citizen will increase. We’re building the entire infrastructure out in the Mocha that they [political opposition] neglected. The ball is in the court of those seven families,” the President said.
With the demolition completed, the President reminded the squatters that the government’s offer still remains, and the President called on the squatters to complete their compensation transaction with the CH&PA.
“To the seven families, this government stands ready to welcome you and take you to your new homes and remove you from the illegally occupied reserve and to give you a better life… choose wisely. Think wisely and do not be used opportunistically for any political narrative. Leadership is about responsibility and it’s about making right choices,” President Ali said.