PNCR tells squatters to get off party land
Corbin sees mischief afoot
By Samantha Alleyne
Stabroek News
January 10, 2003

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The PNCR is telling would-be squatters to stop putting down markers on a piece of land in Sophia which has been owned by the party for over thirty years.

But the trespassers have vowed not to leave until the party finds house lots for them and they say that since the land belongs to the party it is also theirs.

At the PNCR’s weekly press conference yesterday, Chairman Robert Corbin, who is performing the role of leader following the death of Desmond Hoyte, described those who were preparing to squat on the land as misguided.

And he suggested that mischief of unknown origin seemed to be afoot coming as it did on the death of the party’s leader. He said this was first time in almost 30 years of ownership by the party of the land by way of a transport that some persons were observed attempting to squat on it.

“Why now?” Corbin asked and said it would appear that those would- be squatters have been deliberately misled, “but we stop short of saying that their actions are part of a sinister plot.”

Corbin said the party recognises that thousands of frustrated young people are in search of land for housing and the party is sympathetic but encourages them to apply to the state agency. He added that the party would continue to represent their claims to the authorities.

“Meanwhile we wish to urge those who have misguidedly squatted on the party’s land at Sophia, not to further expense themselves and to remove the markers which have been erected.”

The twenty-two acres are situated just behind the party’s headquarters at Congress Place, separated by two trenches and a road.

Corbin stated that the party once cultivated rice on the land and in fact is about to start a project there soon. “And that is why it was very strange that we are about to commence this project which was delayed because of our leader’s death....... that we are ready to start the project on the very land and we note that there are some pickets suddenly appearing.” He said everyone knows that the land there is part of the PNC property. “But we believe, and we are not without grounds, we don’t want to go into any details, that some people have been deliberately misled and guided,” he further added.

Stabroek News visited the site yesterday and there is a sign which states that the land is owned by the PNCR and that anyone found trespassing would be prosecuted.

But the sixteen or so persons now on the land stated that it was only yesterday morning the sign was put up by party officials.

The land is covered with thick vegetation but the squatters’ markers are visible and two small shacks are in one corner. Persons were seen busily weeding and burning other sections.

According to some there, around one thousand people have put markers on 40ft by 80ft plots with plans to build homes.

It is not clear who told the trespassers that the land should be occupied. Some said they were told that a television newscast made it public that the land was being distributed and they decided to visit the area where they met a number of persons.

Others said that they were passing the area when they observed what was taking place and decided not be left out.

“We hear that the land was giving away and we decide to come down and get a piece,” one man said.

Some of the persons are from areas such as Tiger Bay, Albouystown and La Penitence.

“We are tired of living in tenement yards, we want our own home. We born and live deh, you think we want our children to live deh fo the rest of them life too?” a father of four said.

Some stated that they are living in shacks on the parapet in their villages.

The persons said they have not formed themselves into any official group but they are all just “trying to mek a living.” They are not denying the land belongs to the PNCR but they say that the land was not being cultivated for the last fifteen years and they feel that the land should be distributed to the poor and needy.

“Wah they could want the land foh? We mo important we need to build house fo we family,” some said.

According to some, PNCR officials visited them on Tuesday and took down their names and addresses and they were under the impression that the land would have been given to them. Stabroek News understands that the names and addresses were recorded so that the party could make representation for them to the Ministry of Housing & Water in an effort to assist them in securing land.

Persons started to stake claims to the land on Sunday morning. “We understand that the land is the PNC own, but who is the PNC? Dem is nah we? Then we suppose to get the land first,” one man said. “We plan to stay and build, we not moving, all a we get the right to get a house lot,” said another.

They stated that yesterday morning Corbin had visited the area and listened to their grievances but he warned them that they would have to move. According to one man they were told that the land would be used to build a sports complex among other things, “we can’t even live, we go play?”

The persons, most of them men, said they had left their families at home to lay claim to the land and vowed that they would not move.

Squatters have also invaded land at Liliendaal that has been earmarked by the state for a convention centre and a hotel and the Housing Ministry has warned the occupiers that it will take whatever measures are necessary to evict them from the area.

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