'We won't evict' - Guy says Windsor Heights residents will not be removed
DESPITE THE deadline for residents of Windsor Heights, St Catherine, to pay for the lands they have occupied free of cost for decades, the Government has said it has no plans to evict the occupiers from the lands.
Dr Morais Guy, minister without portfolio in the housing ministry, said that the Government's intention is not to have the people remain without legal claim to the land, but rather one of empowerment.
"Although we gave them the six-month period from last year, it does not mean that we are going to evict them off the land," Guy told The Gleaner yesterday.
The Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing, by way of a letter dated April 7, gave residents in the community known popularly as Sufferers' Heights, until May 22 to either take up the offer to complete payments or documentation for the lots individually assigned to them.
The Windsor Heights property, which is owned by the ministry, is approximately 280 acres comprising approximately 1,500 lots. The lots are valued as low as $90,000 and as high as $2 million. The ministry said 30 lots have been fully paid for; 350 lots have been partially paid for, and 900 have had no payments made on them.
"There is a feeling among a significant number of people that they have been put on the land free of cost," Guy said in reference to comments from residents that the lands have been given to them by former Prime Minister Michael Manley.
Guy said even though the community appeared to be of the view that they should not pay for the lands, he has made it clear that the State intends to collect.
"It is going to be sold to them at a price, but it is not a price that the Government is hoping to make a profit from. They are only paying for the cost of the land," the minister said, while adding that the majority of the community has now bought into the idea.