Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 25th 2015 Contents A7
January 25, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
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Housing and Urban Development Minister, Dr Roodal Moonilal, in discussion with a group of people after
giving out keys to new housing units at Fairfield Estates, in Princes Town, yesterday. PHOTO: RISHI RAGOONATH
With 5,300 housing units given out since
2010, Housing and Urban Development
Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal says the Gov-
ernment is working to increase construc-
tion by 42 per cent over the next two years.
Speaking to new homeowners at Fairfield
Estates, Princes Town, yesterday, Moonilal
said the Housing Development Corporation
(HDC) would build an additional 7,548
homes to meet the growing demand for
The development was one of their proud-
est moments, he said, and the HDC intended
to include shopping areas and a farmers
market in the community, which when
completed will house a few thousand fam-
"You will need places to go for enter-
tainment, recreation or even to cut your
hair," he said.
He added that they were also working
with the farming communities for new
"I dreamt of the day when I could own
my own car and when I could get a job.
I am still dreaming of the day when I could
own my first house.
"Our Government has been tackling
housing and the need for housing. We have
been dealing with this matter. Our con-
struction effort and delivery is not four
and a half years. It is three years because
we took one year to access, one year to
review, one year to understand the chal-
lenges we faced and then we embarked
upon our construction programme," Mooni-
After the function, he was approached
by a group of squatters who said 30 families
had been promised Certificates of Comfort
for the past ten years, but only one resident
was dealt with. He promised to have those
matters looked into.
The Inter-American Development
Bank (IDB) last month approved a
TT$100 million loan to develop 14
sites under the Land Settlement
Agency Squatter Regularisation and
Land for the Landless programmes.
In the coming months, the money
will be spent on infrastructural works
such as roads, electricity, water, drainage
and sewerage for 2,019 residential and
non-residential lots of land.
However, Minister of Land and
Marine Resources Jairam Seemungal,
under whose purview the LSA falls,
said obtaining the loan months before
the general election to develop land
where squatters reside and successful
land applicants would be placed was
not timed to woo votes.
After waiting four years, Seemungal
said on Wednesday, the loan was
approved last December.
He, however, could not say at what
per cent the loan would be repaid and
within what time frame. In addition to
the loan, the Government had also set
aside $20 million to develop smaller
sites, Seemungal said.
"None of these (sites) has anything
to do with election or to get votes. It
is not a political gimmick for the general
election. We would not promise citizens
land to woo votes," Seemungal insisted
at his El Socorro office on Wednesday.
Seemungal said the sites were select-
ed in both PNM and UNC constituen-
"If the PNM wins the election they
have the option of distributing the
non-residential lots to citizens. We
are not doing this for our benefit."
Seemungal estimates the country s
squatting population at 60,000, with
350 squatting sites in existence.
Govt set to build
7,000 more houses
$100m IDB loan to develop land for squatters, the landless
From June until December,
Seemungal said, work would be
undertaken in Arima, Gasparillo,
Brazil Village, Point Fortin, Debe,
Arouca, San Fernando, Carlsen
Field, Princes Town and Couva.
Of the 14 sites, Bon Air North,
Arouca, recorded the largest num-
ber of lots with 446, followed by
Carlsen Field with 284.
Successful Land for the Land-
less applicants and squatters who
are holders of Certificates of
Comfort will have to purchase
the land from the State at sub-
The land fees are to be paid
over a 30-year period, Seemungal
Once the land was fully paid
for, Seemungal said, the owner
would obtain a 199-year deed
from the Government.
Seemungal said because the
LSA needed to revamp its act, no
squatter was handed deeds under
the People s Partnership Govern-
"We are working on the legis-
lation for squatters, which is
before the Law Review Commis-
sion right now. There (is) some
final tweaking to do with it. I am
sure it will go to Parliament soon.
One thing I can say is that we are
going to make squatting an illegal
and criminal act."
LSA already has in its posses-
sion surveyed plans from the
Director of Surveys and Valuations
for each site, prepared by the
Commissioner of Valuation.
Planning and topographic works
are being undertaken at several of
the sites to get the ball rolling.
The LSA, Seemungal said, had
already engaged the T&T Mort-
gage Finance (TTMF) to assist
with financial advice.
"So far, the TTMF has pre-
qualified several people for soft
loans ranging from $30,000 to
$150,000 at two per cent interest
rate," Seemungal said.
In many of the sites, Seemungal
said, children lived in poor con-
ditions and squalor.
"A lot of people squat out of
necessity, having no place to go.
This is why we have been dealing
with it in a very human and sen-
sitive way." SEE PAGE A14
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