Wed | Jun 3, 2020

Solve squatter crisis, urban-planning nightmare

Published:Tuesday | July 31, 2018 | 12:00 AM


The recently held 25th anniversary presentation of the Churches' Emancipation Lecture is to be highly commended. Kudos to the pioneers, the Rev Dr Burchell Taylor and the Rev J. Oliver Daley.

The focus of this year's Emancipation Lecture was 'From the Chattel House to the Family Home - property and law after Emancipation'.

For me, one of the most intriguing aspects of the lecture is the view that "property law is not static; it is dynamic and evolving and it should be dialogic". Aside from the implications of such a view on the Property Rights of Spouses Act of 2004, which the lecture explored, my mind raced to a few other issues.

How is such a view of property law to impact the national dialogue on squatting, the redevelopment of downtown Kingston, the development of Heroes Circle, and the implications for the nearby communities, the persistent poor state of housing in downtown Kingston, and those for whom money and morals are no barrier to the temptation to land-grab?

The 2010 census reported that some 31,439 households were identified as squatter units - this amounts to approximately 700,000 Jamaicans, nearly one-third of our people! My hope is that meaningful dialogue will lead us to take decisive and practical actions that will advance our post-Emancipation project as a nation. Without tangible actions, clothed in the fierce urgency of now, it seems our reflection on the lesson and legacy of Emancipation is likely to be more sour than sweet.