Tue | Sep 28, 2021

Eliminate squatting now

Published:Wednesday | May 12, 2021 | 12:08 AM


In this day and age, we should aggressively make moves to eliminate squatting in Jamaica. In 1838, the year of our Emancipation, 350,000 slaves became squatters. Fast forward to 2021, the Planning Institute of Jamaica has been saying, for perhaps decades, that a third of the population is squatting.

I can recall when a former commissioner of police declared that “squatter communities are like factories for criminals”. Not all squatters ,we must declare, are criminals, though just circumstances of poverty are reinforced by the active ‘politics of poverty’. Eliminating squatting is possible, and this is where we should begin. A United Nations Charter declares ‘Every human being has a right to a liveable space.’ This is where reparation could start – not only in the UK. There are Crown lands to assist, but one has to be careful that under the guise of investments, land is transferred to the group who benefited immensely from Emancipation.

Let us decide what is a liveable space – say a minimum of one square chain or more based on the availability of land. If we could achieve this, crime, social disorder and decadent behaviour would be drastically reduced; also, the economic fortunes of Jamaicans would improve. This is where the National Housing Trust, in collaboration with all other agencies and willing volunteers like myself, would participate in what I see as a bipartisan mass political and national movement. This would aid the deepening and widening of the national wealth-creation process, while creating a more civilised Jamaican society.

Expect opposition from many quarters, but we must stand up for what we believe in. Squatting must be eliminated now.