Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 3rd 2013 Contents A11
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effective...to give harsher penalties and make squat-
ting a criminal offence so we can take faster action
Penalties will be effectively enforced for new
squatters, Hosein said.
Hosein said squatters who encroach on State land
could be treated similarly to a traffic offender, who
is not exonerated from a jail sentence.
By February or March of 2014, Hosein said, the
governing legislation of the LSA would be amended
and measures would be in place to regularise squatters
who did not apply to the LSA for regularisation and
were occupying lands before 1998.
The LSA is authorised under the State Land (Reg-
ularisation of Tenure) Act 25 of 1998 to prevent and
contain further squatting on State lands and to reg-
ularise eligible existing squatters.
A person who is eligible for regularisation must
have occupied a dwelling house on the property
prior to January 1, 1998, and applied for a Certificate
of Comfort before October 27, 2000.
So far, 7,000 Certificates of Comfort have been
handed out. By 2015 the remaining 16,000 appli-
cations will be fully processed.
Despite the existing legislation, Hosein said citizens
continue to unlawfully invade lands in every nook
and cranny of the country.
Hosein said the survey showed that thousands of
squatters were claiming to occupy lands before 1998,
which the LSA was trying to verify through its archive
of satellite imagery and aerial photography.
"We have to contain the new squatters and make
alternatives available for potential squatters," Hosein
One solution to the problem, Hosein said, was
instituting a pricing policy for the lands, which was
recently approved by Cabinet.
Squatters who have been regularised and fall
within the ambit of the law, Hosein said would pay
five dollar per square foot plus a 20 per cent premium
on the open market value of the land, which will
be provided with all the necessary amenities.
"The pricing mechanism will vary depending on
the value of the land."
So far the Government, Hosein said had pumped
millions in infrastructural works on 20 of LSA s
A US$25 million IDB loan has already been
approved for the LSA to develop an additional 25
sites with proper roads, drains, water, electricity
and sewerage systems where necessary.
"Over the next two to three years we will spend
a significant amount of money on infrastructural
The LSA has requested $300 million in this year s
budget to get the ball rolling on its projects.
It costs the Government between $60,000 to
$80,000 to develop one lot of State land.
Hosein said the Land for the Landless Programme
was an alternative to the country s housing hor-
The LSA projects by 2016 they can deliver 10,000
fully developed lots which will be converted to hous-
ing units through its Housing Support Centre, which
can ease the chronic housing shortage.
Lots will be valued between $80,000 to $150,000
depending on their location.
Approximately 1,000 lots were completed or near
completion, Hosein said.
"I am optimistic it can work. If this programme
works we should not have squatting in the future."
Thousands of land claims
waiting to be verified
Continued from Page A10
It was a "bittersweet" moment for
Ansonia Torres as she received the
Humming Bird (Gold) medal on
behalf of her grandfather veteran
journalist and historian Louis B
Homer on Saturday night at the
annual National Independence Day
Homer, 80, a former T&T Guardian
and Trinidad Express journalist, a
father of three and grandfather of
four, passed away at the San Fernando
General Hospital last Saturday one
daye after he was admitted.
On Saturday Torres, speaking with
reporters after she received Homer s
medal from President Anthony Car-
mona at the Sundarlal Popo Theatre,
Southern Academy for the Performing
Arts, Rienzi Kirton Highway, San Fer-
nando, said she was fighting back her
tears as she walked on stage to collect
her grandfather s award.
"To be honest I was trying not to
cry because it was a bittersweet
moment for me and for the family,
but I am glad that even though he is
not here to collect today (Saturday)
he knew that he was getting the
award. He left knowing that he was
going to be awarded in this way even
though he was not a man who looked
for recognition, but he got it nonethe-
less," Torres said.
Homer was interred at the Paradise
Cemetery, San Fernando last Thursday
following a funeral service at the Lady
of Perpetual Help Roman Catholic
Church at Harris Promenade, a church
which he was lobbying to be awarded
national heritage building status.
Fellow journalist Theron Boodan
received a Hummingbird (Gold) medal
at Saturday s ceremony which was
held in South Trinidad for the first
time in the 54 years since the national
Boodan, who was last employed at
Newsday, expressed pride at having
received the award.
He said it "symbolises that freedom
of the press is very much alive in
Musicians Shivanand Maharaj and
Earl Knight were also awarded Hum-
mingbird (Gold) medals, together with
attorney Ramesh Persad-Maharaj and
businessman George Janoura.
Chutney queen Ramragee Prabhoo
was awarded a Hummingbird (Silver)
medal for her contribution to cul-
She told reporters when she
received the call that she was nom-
inated for a national award she was
happy to have been recognised. She
thanked Prime Minister Kamla Per-
sad-Bissessar for recognising local
artistes and the contribution that they
make towards national development.
'Bittersweet' moment for
Chutney artiste Ramragee Prabhoo gestures as she stands with Prime
Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and her husband Dr Gregory Bissessar,
after receiving the Humming Bird Medal, Silver, for her work in the
sphere of culture from President Anthony Carmona at the Southern
Academy for the Performing Arts, San Fernando, during the National
Awards ceremony on Saturday. PHOTO: KRISTIAN DE SILVA
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